REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS: MARK GIORDANO

Mark Giordano was one of the Flames very best players in the 2013-14 season, putting up a Norris caliber season despite getting little recognition for what he did this past season.  Gio is unlikely to replicate what he did last season but there’s little doubt he will be one of the Flames’ best players in the 2014-15 season.

Shortly before the 2013-14 season began, he was named the new captain of the Flames.  As soon as the C was stitched onto the left side of his jersey he became unstoppable.  He began the year in dominating form, amassing 9 points in 8 games before a broken ankle took him out for six weeks.  Returning from injury, he picked up right where he left off.  In fact, he picked up 2 points in his first game and was named the 1st star of the game.  

Shortly after returning from injury, Giordano formed a #1 pairing with TJ Brodie and the two created one of the best D pairings in the NHL.  Right up there with Doughty & Muzzin, Keith & Seabrook, Chara & Whoever. Additionally, Giordano’s offensive production kept right on chuggin’.

2013-14 NUMBERS

Player  Team            GP            G         A          P             PPG       +/-         S          S%
1 Erik Karlsson OTT 82 20 54 74 0.90 -15 257 7.8
2 Duncan Keith CHI 79 6 55 61 0.77 22 198 3
3 Shea Weber NSH 79 23 33 56 0.71 -2 195 11.8
4 Victor Hedman TBL 75 13 42 55 0.73 5 170 7.6
5 P.K. Subban MTL 82 10 43 53 0.65 -4 204 4.9
6 Keith Yandle PHX 82 8 45 53 0.65 -23 241 3.3
7 Alex Pietrangelo STL 81 8 43 51 0.63 20 164 4.9
8 James Wisniewski CBJ 75 7 44 51 0.68 0 166 4.2
9 Niklas Kronwall DET 79 8 41 49 0.62 0 110 7.3
10 Brent Burns SJS 69 22 26 48 0.70 26 245 9
11 Mark Giordano CGY 64 14 33 47 0.73 12 180 7.8
12 Matt Niskanen PIT 81 10 36 46 0.57 33 162 6.2
13 Kevin Shattenkirk STL 81 10 35 45 0.56 1 188 5.3
14 Oliver Ekman-Larsson PHX 80 15 29 44 0.55 -4 199 7.5
15 Andrej Sekera CAR 74 11 33 44 0.59 4 142 7.7

Gio WOWY

Giordano finished the year with 47 points in 64 games (0.73 ppg), finishing 11th in defense scoring. If Gio had played all 82 games and kept up that scoring pace he would have finished top 3 in d-men scoring. As well, while I’m not generally a proponent of +/-, Gio played some of the toughest minutes in the league and came out +12 on the season.  No other d-man on a non-playoff team with similar points was even near Gio in this regard. He also had one of the highest relative corsi % in the entire league and made everybody he played with significantly better. In summary, Gio had an amazing year in 2013-14.

2014-15 EXPECTATIONS

Year               GP                 G             A              P            PPG           IPP            P/60    Fenwick      PDO
2005-06 7 0 1 1 0.14 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2006-07 48 7 8 15 0.31 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2007-08 Russia
2008-09 58 2 17 19 0.33 35.1 1.12 57.70% 1
2009-10 82 11 19 30 0.37 33.3 0.76 54.10% 1.02
2010-11 82 8 35 43 0.52 25.5 0.58 55.00% 0.99
2011-12 61 9 18 27 0.44 35 0.84 48.20% 1.01
2012-13 47 4 11 15 0.32 19.5 0.59 47.10% 0.99
2013-14 64 14 33 47 0.73 47.8 1.16 53.60% 1

Based on previous season totals, this past season appears to be an anomaly.  Gio shattered nearly all his previous offensive records.  There’s a chance that a high-beam switch turned on and Gio really found his game this year.  However, it’s more likely that he had a really, really good year and is going to regress  to some degree in the coming year.  

Gio, throughout his career, has been a good bet to score at a 0.35ish ppg clip (approximately 30 points over 82 games).  His production from last year (0.73 ppg) is more than double his normal scoring clip. Additionally, Giordano will be 31 years of age by the time the season is one month old. We all know that a player’s prime years are in his mid-20’s and production falls off a cliff once a player reaches his 30’s. The odds are not in Gio’s favor to replicate what he did last year.

On the other hand, Giordano will clearly be getting #1 ES minutes and PP minutes this upcoming season, just like last season. Previously in his career, Giordano was not the #1 d-man, typically a 3 or 4 d-man. Therefore, I see him scoring at a higher rate than his career average.  He will likely settle in around the 40-45 point mark (0.5 ppg).

Additionally, Giordano has been a possession driver nearly every year since becoming an established NHLer. This year, I see him being used identically as he was last year (all the time, in every situation) and, barring a significant injury, he will most certainly be a possession monster once again.  

  • seve927

    Excellent article. Opportunity knocked and he answered the bell. Expect to see more of the same this year as he continues to lead and be the heart and soul of the developing team.

  • Lordmork

    I think my biggest concern this year is that Gio regresses a lot. I doubt he’s going to replicate last season, but can he come close? I have no idea, which is why it worries me.

  • PrairieStew

    I don’t expect him to score at that rate again – that is pretty clear from the data. His injury, coupled with the injur(ies?) to Wideman left Hartley pretty short of top 4 options most of the season. When Gio was there Hartley decided that going all in with his top 2 guys together seemed to give the team the best chance to win, but I have to wonder if splitting Gio and TJ up might be the strategy this year.

    Brodie is the one leftie that has played the right side, so that makes him Kris Russell’s partner and Gio and Wideman play together.. Hopefully this can provide 2 decent NHL pair that can play 50 minutes; rather than one elite pair playing 27 and one below average pair out there for 23.

    • seve927

      Even if Wideman returns to form, he’s still not a top pairing defender, nor is Russell. I think either of those gets eaten alive as a top pairing, but it would make for a pretty good second pairing.

      • PrairieStew

        Agree that neither Russell nor Wideman are top pairing defenders. My concern is that the 2 of them together do not make an average 2nd pairing unit – so while Gio and TJ might be killing it – all their gains are lost by a below average second pair and a bad third pair….

          • Possible but unlikely. Hartley’s tendency is to roll three pairings as much as possible based on basic line-matching (Gio/Brodie against 1st line, some of 2nd). And then they ride three lines and two pairs in the third if the game is close. Using Brodie & Gio separately situationally would be tough to balance in terms of ice-time and deployments.

        • seve927

          Right. There is definite lack of depth. I just feel that it’s most important to be able to defend the opposing top six effectively, rather than really defend no one effectively.

          • PrairieStew

            Right – top 6 need to be defended against . The question is whether one elite pair and one barely average one is better than 2 above average pairs. One elite defenseman can carry a pair. Butler looked not too bad when playing with Bouwmeester remember ?

            I guess we shall see !!

          • PrairieStew

            Are you saying Gio and Brodie was NOT an effective pairing ?

            Oh Okay – you are saying Bouw/Butler was not. Maybe not elite – but Butler probably faced his toughest comp ever playing with Jay and while they were not elite they weren’t terrible either.

    • Lordmork

      So you would have Eng and Smid as your third pairing playing 10 minutes a night, pity the forwards with that pairing. Neutral zone starts dump and hope for a offensive ice face off and get off the ice.

      Strategy: Gio and TJ all the defensive zone starts as possible, drive possession and play both special teams,

      Russell/Wides: as many Ozone starts as possible play PP and minimal PK as possible.

      Engs/Smid: as outlined above.

      We need to upgrade our defense and hopefully Spoon or Sieloff can become part of the solution.

      • seve927

        I think Wotherspoon might be pretty close. With no Extra Skater any more, I can’t verify this, but it seemed to me his first 8 games he was in the low 30’s in Corsi, then was just under 50 in his last 6 – over 50 in 5 of those 6, just one terrible game against the Rangers bringing him down. He went from leading his junior team in +/- to leading his AHL team in +/-.

        I think he’s a good bet to step up this year.

        And Lord do we need that to happen.

      • PrairieStew

        By default yes – Engelland and Smid is the third pair – and 10 minutes at the most !

        What concerns me is the temptation to put all the eggs in one basket with Gio and TJ and then try and trot them out there for 30 minutes. I agree that Wideman is not always the best defender – but is he better with Gio or with Russell ? With Gio for sure. Same with Russell – better with TJ or with Wideman ? I am more comfortable knowing that one of either TJ or Gio (realistically the Flames 2 best players) is on the ice 85% of the time.

  • seve927

    I would love to see Gio’s contract extended for 3 years at slightly more than Wides contract. nearing the end of his career as the Flames become relevant he would be an excellent 5-6 defender. Even if his offensive numbers drop but his defensive play remains the same he is worth it.

    His offensive production will depend on whom he plays with. If he continues to play with TJ he will improve his totals as long as he remains healthy, if they break this pairing up his numbers will slip.

  • BurningSensation

    Lowetide was doing one of his fantasy GM things and suggested; Giordano for Hedman

    My initial reaction is ‘YES!’ followed by ‘Tampa would NEVER do it’.

    These numbers make me wonder if I Yzerman might actually consider it.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Is the peak scoring age similar for forwards and d?

    I read here, that forwards usually have their highest scoring seasons relatively early.

    What is the trend for d? I assume it to be quite similar but I imagine the peak is 25-27 – slightly older.

    Would be interesting to see the historical data.

  • Byron Bader

    I would be incredibly surprised if Gio and Brodie were split up. Unless winning is not what they want at all this year and part of their strategy is to ensure higher odds at McDavid/Eichel, Gio and Brodie should continue on as a duo and Backlund will be on the ice with them as much as possible. But McGrattan played a few games on the 3rd line last year so ye know who knows.

    • T&A4Flames

      Maybe the new challenge for Brodie is to see if he can carry the mail most of the season with a weaker partner. Gio is a mentor out their for Brodie, maybe it’s time to see if Brodie can be a mentor playing tough minutes. Pass and your value skyrockets even more.

      • T&A4Flames

        As long as he does not have to carry an anchor. For me the first half of the preseason would be a good time to experiment, say with he with Spoon, Gio with Sieloof, Russell with Smid, Wides with Kulak, Engs with Cundari, etc.

  • T&A4Flames

    Gio is an amazing d-man and competitor. He embodies everything a leader should have and he makes an excellent captain. There were questions if he could handle a top 2 pairing role and he has passed with flying colours. Had he not been injured he was on pace to put up 60 points. He could have won the Norris trophy. Even though he was injured, he should have still been a finalist.