Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
The Calgary Flames have signed 31-year-old defenseman and captain Mark Giordano to a six-year contract extension the club announced on Tuesday. The deal is worth a reported $40.5 million overall, and carries an annual average value of $6.75 million.
Giordano – who turns 32 prior to the beginning of this upcoming season – is entering the final year of his current five-year, $20.1 million contract, so obviously this new deal represents a significant and well earned raise. It’s also a pretty big win for Flames management, considering that Giordano’s camp reportedly was looking for an eight-year deal worth more than $70 million.
While the contract arguably comes in below market value, it’s still a risky proposition for the Flames. Giordano, after all, won’t suit up for his first regular season game under his new contract until he’s 33-years-old, and he’ll be taking up $6.75 million in cap space at the age of 39 – during a season in which all of Calgary’s projectable, elite core (Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau) will be getting paid at unrestricted free agent rates.
It seems highly unlikely that Giordano will be the player he is today during the latter stages of the contract.
Obviously the injury issue is another concern. Though Giordano has mostly been extraordinarily durable in his career, he hasn’t played a full 82 game season since the 2010-11 campaign. Even for a savvy, puck-moving defender like Giordano, it can become difficult to stay healthy when playing a physically demanding position into your mid- to late- 30s.
Risks are part and parcel with retaining elite talent in their unrestricted free agent seasons, but they’re particularly pronounced for Giordano because of his odd career path. This is a player who wasn’t really elite until he turned 29, but based on what he’s done over the past two seasons, is easily a top-10 defender in the game.
We’ll have to see how this plays out over the subsequent seven years, but what’s clear today is that this is a big ticket deal for a player outside of his traditional prime years. Even in spite of the favourable cap hit it’s a tough deal for a team that’s likely to be committing serious chunks of change and cap space to a small group of key, star-quality forwards in the coming years. It’s also a significant hometown discount on Giordano’s part, which goes a long way towards minimizing that risk.
When you’re hot, you’re hot. And there’s no doubting that this summer Flames management has been hot.