Kraken captain Mark Giordano was back on the ice practicing with his team Friday, again not knowing whether it would be for the final time.

Giordano and teammates engaged in one-on-one drills at the Kraken Community Iceplex, battling for loose pucks in a format designed to bring out their competitive side. But for Giordano, hoping to compete for his first Stanley Cup someplace else, the waiting game continued nearly 48 hours after being a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s contest against Tampa Bay in which he was honored on-ice beforehand.

“It wasn’t ideal, because I didn’t play in the game,” Giordano, 38, said of how the rest of that evening unfolded after being feted for having played in his 1,000th game during the team’s recent road trip. “But obviously, with my situation that’s to be expected.”

Instead, he had a rare opportunity to sit in the stands with his parents, Paul and Anna, and his sister Michelle to watch the Kraken play without him.

“We ended up having a good time,” he said. “So it was a special night regardless and something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Giordano was particularly surprised his father narrated a tribute video played for him on Climate Pledge Arena’s dual scoreboards. He left the building that night not knowing whether he’d see teammates again and has been living “day to day, hour to hour” looking at his phone to see whether he’s been traded.

Advertising

Giordano and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm are the primary blue-liners remaining on the market. Teams seeking a top-four defender include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins. New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues.

The possibility of Giordano winding up in his hometown of Toronto is an intriguing one that appeals to him and Maple Leafs fans. Toronto hasn’t been to a Cup Final since winning its last title in 1967, and almost every hockey-playing youngster from there grows up dreaming of leading the Leafs to the promised land.

Giordano said his conversations with Kraken general manager Ron Francis and coach Dave Hakstol have been up front and honest. Neither wanted him playing against the Lightning, given the risk he could get hurt. Hakstol confirmed Friday that Giordano, if still around come Saturday night’s game against Detroit, won’t play in that contest, either.

“I’m trying to come to the rink, be around the guys and put in some work, too, so it’s weird,” Giordano said, adding he understands the decision not to play him. “I’ve never been through this before, so it’s different.”

His teammates, he added, have ribbed him about his status.

“Every time I come in, I get some jokes sent my way,” he said. “Little chirps here and there. But yeah, we’ve developed over the course of the year. We’ve really come together the past few months as a group really well. It’s a tough situation, but we all understand what’s going on.”

Hakstol said the team is doing what it can to block out distractions.

Advertising

“There are two sides to it,” Hakstol said. “There’s an understanding of the individual and the human side of it. There’s also a business side, which everybody is fully aware of and can handle.”

Hakstol said he’s tried to make sure the team “is ready to compete” regardless of what happens. Friday’s one-on-one drills — after the team was given a day off Thursday — were designed to bring out “that real, true competitiveness” Hakstol feels will be important in the final 20 games as the Kraken fine-tune smaller details, hoping to turn close losses into wins.

Some believe the trade market for defensemen was set Wednesday when Montreal shipped Ben Chiarot to Florida for a 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-rounder and unsigned college prospect Tyler Smilanic. Chiarot, 30, is eight years younger than Giordano, but his track record is as a physical, unspectacular blue-liner.

Giordano, three years removed from winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, is a more offensive player and has been a team captain since 2013 with the Flames and Kraken.

Still, trade “markets” are set by what teams are willing to pay, not necessarily previous deals. Francis hopes to land a No. 1 pick for Giordano, especially if teams look for the Kraken to absorb some of his salary. But word out of Toronto this week was that GM Kyle Dubas was unwilling to part with anything higher than a second-round pick, which is where other teams’ interest in Giordano could come into play.

Francis has until Monday’s noon PT deadline to get a deal done and could benefit from playing suitors off against one another right up until the clock expires.

Advertising

Attempts at moving Giordano, in his final contract year at $6.75 million, follow the trade Wednesday of forward Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary for a second-round pick this summer, a third-rounder in 2023 and a seventh-round selection in 2024. The Kraken also agreed to take on half of Jarnkrok’s remaining salary, about $220,000. 

The Kraken entered Friday having lost five of their past six games and 12 of their past 14. They were second to last in the NHL, just one point ahead of Montreal. But Giordano said his time with the Kraken, if it is indeed ending, has been an experience he won’t forget.

“I’ve been happy to be a part of building something here,” Giordano said. “To be named captain is something I don’t take for granted. And for the organization to put the ‘C’ on my jersey this year means a lot. I look at a ton of different relationships I made this year. Guys I’d never met before.

“So it’s been a pretty cool experience. I know obviously we didn’t get the results we would have wanted. But I do think there are a lot of positives to take away from the way this thing was built and is being built.”