In 2018-19, Mark Giordano won the Norris Trophy as the National Hockey League’s top defenseman. In 2019-20, he wasn’t quite as good and had some challengers for the title of best Calgary Flames offensive defenseman.
And about time, too, because Giordano turned 36 the week the season began.
2019-20 season summary
After a season where a lot of things went right on both sides of the rink for Giordano – and several teammates had career years – things fell back down to Earth for him in 2019-20.
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Giordano primarily played with TJ Brodie or Rasmus Andersson. When he was paired with Brodie, they got a steady diet of the other team’s top lines and their deployments skewed towards heavy defensive zone starts. When he played with Andersson, there were a few more offensive zone starts as a means of protecting Andersson a bit.
Giordano served his seventh season as Flames captain and led the club to their fourth playoff appearance in that span. He suffered a hamstring injury in early February and missed 10 games. At five-on-five, Giordano had two goals and 12 assists. On the power play, he had two goals and nine assists.
Giordano’s step back offensively was part of a season that saw him rank anywhere between third and fifth in most offensive shot metrics (controlling for time on ice) – usually behind some combination of Brodie, Andersson and Noah Hanifin. But despite this quieting of his offensive output, he was the most consistently effective defensive presence on the team – only Andersson approached his consistency and across-the-board effectiveness at suppressing opponent offense (controlling for time on ice).
Compared to last season
Three things changed for Giordano in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19:
- The quality of the scoring chances he created dipped.
- His shooting percentage cratered to well below career average.
- Everybody else saw their shooting percentages normalized below last year’s insane levels.
In short? A lot less stuff went in when Giordano was on the ice than in prior seasons, and his production fell back down to Earth a bit.
At five-on-five, he scored two goals (down from 10) and had seven primary points (down from 24) and 12 points (down from 40). His personal shooting percentage at five-on-five dipped from 6.58% to 1.83%, the lowest of all the Flames regulars. (He would’ve had seven goals at five-on-five with the same shooting percentage as 2018-19.) He had 11 power play points, down from 21 in 2018-19.
What about next season?
The good news is that Giordano doesn’t suck. Despite being the NHL’s 14th-oldest player in 2019-20 he had very good possession numbers and remained a really effective defender. Sure, his offense dried up a bit, but if his shooting percentage bounces back he’s bound to have some better results in 2020-21.
The bad news is that Giordano will be 37 whenever the next season starts – and you can feel free to worry about scoring chance quality, since that’s something that could actually continue to decline over time – and has two seasons left with a $6.75 million cap hit. His modified no-trade clause begins next season, which allows him to name 19 teams he’ll accept a move to. But given his captaincy and his status as the team’s best defensive blueliner, he’ll probably be around for awhile.
The most pressing question is whether Giordano will be playing with Brodie or Andersson full-time next season.