Tuesday August 25th, 2015

The Calgary Flames took care of a major piece of off-season business on Tuesday, locking up captain Mark Giordano with a six-year, $40.5 million contract extension. It’s a give a little, get a little deal that works to the advantage of both sides.

Giordano’s cap hit under the new deal will be $6.75 million, a nice raise on $4,020,000 he’ll earn in 2015-16, the final season of his current five-year deal. It’s also a very reasonable sum for a No. 1 blueliner who was the favorite to claim the 2015 Norris Trophy before he suffered a torn biceps tendon in February, prematurely ending his season. Prior to the injury, Giordano set career highs in assists (37) and points (48) in 2014-15 despite playing in just 61 games, leading to speculation that this deal would net him closer to $9 million per year. But Giordano, who has made it clear that he loves being part of the Flames, traded dollars for term.

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Calgary is taking a risk by signing a 31-year-old for six years, but not as much as you’d first think. Despite his age, Giordano is a relatively low mileage purchase, with just 510 NHL games on his resume. Jay Bouwmeester is 31 and has played in 936 games. Duncan Keith is 32 and has played in 882, logging some hard playoff miles to boot. And 10 of the past 15 Norris Trophies have been won by players who were 30 or older. Of course most of those were claimed by Nick Lidstrom—and no one is saying that Giordano is Lidstrom—but it suggests that a 30-plus defender isn’t necessarily a worrisome investment, even over the latter years of a longer-term deal.

And by keeping the dollars down, general manager Brad Treliving set himself up nicely for next summer when he’ll have to re-sign Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to new deals, and Sam Bennett the year after that. He not only left himself some cap room to play with, he set an artificial ceiling that should keep these deals in line.

So now both sides can move forward, which is critical for a team that took significant strides last season even with its captain in the press box. The Flames won’t have to the distraction of “What are you gonna do about Gio’s contract?” questions to deal with and the player can focus on leading a young team that may have lost the element of surprise but still has a room for growth in 2015-16.

 

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