Report: Mark Giordano Seeking $9 Million Contract


There are reports out of Calgary that defenseman Mark Giordano is seeking a contract in the range of $9 million a season beginning in 2016/17.  The 31-year old defenseman is entering the last year of his contract with the Flames and preliminary discussions have started with the club on a long-term extension.

At this point, it’s tough to take any contract demands serious from either side.  Mark Giordano and the Flames know he has almost a full year to go before he hits unrestricted free agency, and clearly a lot can happen during that time.  But asking for $9 million a season?  It’s actually laughable considering that would put him on par with P.K. Subban as the largest cap hit amongst defensemen in the league.  I like Giordano, but not at that price tag.

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Don’t get me wrong: Mark Giordano is a very good defenseman.  He set a career-high in points this past season (48) in only 61 games, only a season after posting 47 points in 2013/14.  He was well on his way to being a Norris Trophy Finalist this season before a torn biceps tendon ended his year with 21 games remaining (the Flames’ captain is expected to be ready for training camp later this summer.)  While many thought his injury would be the death knell for the Flames’ playoff chances, Calgary remained competitive and ended up defeating Vancouver in round one of the playoffs without their All-Star defenseman.

Mark Giordano will be 33 by the time the 2016/17 season starts, the first year of a new extension.  He doesn’t have the same mileage on his legs as other players his age (only 510 regular season games played), but his next contract will take him from the end of his prime to well past it.  This isn’t to say he will turn out the same way, but Wade Redden signed his mega-deal with the New York Rangers at age 31 and his play completely fell off a cliff.  It’s not to say it will occur here, but it is a cautionary tale before handing a blank check over to a defenseman at the end of his prime (and yes, the Islanders fan in me is telling myself this won’t be the case with Johnny Boychuk.)

Boychuk is actually an interesting comparison here.  He signed a seven-year extension with the Islanders recently that carries a $6 million cap hit until he’s 37 years old.  Mark Giordano is more offensively gifted than Boychuk, but will be two years older when his extension kicks in than Boychuk is now.  Giordano should sign a deal in excess of $6 million per year, but in no way will come close to hitting the $9 million figure he reportedly demanded.

Taking a look at other defensemen around the league, Dion Phaneuf, Drew Doughty, Brian Campbell, Kris Letang, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber all carry cap hits of $7 million or more in addition to Subban’s price tag.  All of those contracts were signed several years ago, but they do provide a realistic expecation that Giordano should anticipate receiving a contract in the $7 million to $7.25 million range.  The Flames should hold steady on not offering anything more than a five-year extension (would take him to 37), even if it means increasing the annual salary to $7.5 million.  No one can guarantee what the salary cap will look like in five years, and while the reasonable expectation is that it will increase, the Flames should not put themselves in a position to be handcuffed by an albatross of a contract.

As of now, negotiations seem cordial and both sides have expressed a willingness to complete a deal prior to training camp.  However, if Giordano doesn’t reduce his demands, or if Calgary is worried about signing him to a long-term deal at his age, the Flames could gauge trade interest over the summer and potentially move him.  That would seem to be an extreme measure that neither side wants, but until a contract extension is signed, it is a possibility.

Regardless, Mark Giordano has set himself up nicely to cash in with one last big payday.  It will likely be with the Flames, the only NHL organization he has ever known.  But before anyone gets sentimental, the Flames should proceed forward with caution or they could end up with a contract that damages them in the long run.

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