In earlier articles, we previewed some big names including Claude Giroux, John Klingberg, and Marc-Andre Fleury. That said, there are still many big-name players available for teams to target to bolster their rosters. While adding depth scoring is welcomed and something teams can never really have enough of improving the blue line is often what helps win championships.
The market for defensemen come trade deadline day is usually a top priority in order for teams to create depth on their blue line heading into the playoffs. We have already seen the Colorado Avalanche set the market when they acquired Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks for prospect Drew Helleson and a second-round pick in 2023. With plenty of defensemen available at the deadline this year, this article will feature the potential landing spots for three solid defensemen that should garner a lot of interest as we inch closer to the March 21, 2022, deadline.
Mark Giordano – Left Defense – Seattle Kraken
The Seattle Kraken would really be making a mistake if they did not move their veteran captain for assets prior to the trade deadline. Aside from Klingberg and Jakob Chychrun, he is probably the best defenseman available to acquire this season. He is a former Norris Trophy winner and although he may not be as dynamic offensively now as he once was, he will be a stabilizing figure on any contender’s blue line. He does come with a modified no-movement clause and can submit a list of 19 teams he would approve a trade to.
Landing Spot 1: New York Rangers
Mark Giordano’s playstyle as a responsible two-way defenseman makes him an easy fit for any team looking to acquire his services. He is used to playing top-pair minutes, which is why the New York Rangers should be a team that looks to make an addition of this caliber to their blue line. Giordano would provide the team with a legitimate defense partner to work alongside Adam Fox.
The right side of New York’s blue line is solid with Fox and Jacob Trouba, but the left side is lacking a veteran presence capable of eating tough minutes in a playoff series. With a mostly young group of left defensemen on the blue line highlighted by Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, and Patrick Nemeth the left side could definitely use a player like Giordano to help slot players more suitably.
Lindgren has taken most of the reps as Fox’s running mate on the left side of the top pair this season because of his defensive reliability meshing well with the offensive upside Fox possesses. Giordano would not need to rely on at the same capacity he currently is in Seattle and wouldn’t need to be the power-play quarterback or puck-mover Seattle requires him to be. The leadership and 23 games of playoff experience he would bring to a young defense corps would do wonders for the Rangers in the playoffs.
Landing Spot 2: Florida Panthers
For all the same reasons the Rangers would want Giordano, the Florida Panthers would also reap the same benefits. Although Florida’s back end is not as inexperienced as the Rangers, they would still benefit greatly from adding a stabilizing veteran presence to their blue line. They are legitimate Cup contenders and leaders of the Atlantic Division, and should make every attempt to bolster their defense considering how strong they are offensively.
Giordano is used to playing top-pair minutes and he could easily replace MacKenzie Weegar on the team’s top defensive pair. The other option is to play him on the second pair in a shut-down role with Radko Gudas, which would allow the team to push Gustav Forsling to the third pair to provide depth.
Ben Chiarot – Left Defense/ Right Defense – Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman is one of the top names available in the defense market. He comes with 56 games of playoff experience, which will be welcomed by any team. Montreal relied on him heavily throughout the season and he is averaging a career high in ice time this season. There are a lot of suitors that want to acquire Ben Chiarot’s services but two in particular stick out as front-runners.
Landing Spot 1: St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues don’t necessarily need to add a blueliner, but it would be a good idea heading into the playoffs in order to shelter some younger defensemen. The Blues have been linked to Chiarot for a few months now and his affordable cap hit would make pulling off a trade even easier to fit into their cap situation.
The Blues are without a second- or a seventh-rounder in this year’s draft, but they still have a lot of draft capital to play with. Chiarot’s versatility gives him some added value on the trade market, but St. Louis would likely opt to use him on the left side of their blue line that currently features Marco Scandella, Torey Krug, and Niko Mikkola. The addition would push Scandella to a more suitable role off the top pair and put Mikkola into the role of a seventh defenseman, which creates strong defensive depth.
Landing Spot 2: Calgary Flames
The Flames already made a big move to acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from the Canadiens and are definitely looking to continue to upgrade their roster. They are the leaders of the Pacific Division and are one of the stronger teams in the Western Conference but could benefit greatly from adding a two-way defenseman like Chiarot.
The Flames have a lot of defensive defensemen on their roster in Brandon Tanev, Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Zadorov, and Michael Stone. Chiarot would provide some offense and also reliability to the defense corps. He can play big minutes if needed and is averaging 23:33 of ice time this season with 18 points in 54 games on the year.
Calvin de Haan – Left Defense/ Right Defense – Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks will be sellers and Calvin de Haan is a pending unrestricted free agent; getting any assets back for him would be a huge win for the franchise. His ability to play both the left and right defense would give any team acquiring him the ability to create several different looks on defense depending on the playoff matchup.
Landing Spot 1: Toronto Maple Leafs
The team is going through some goaltending struggles but Kyle Dubas openly said that he is focused on adding to the defense rather than addressing his current goaltending situation. Adding a reliable defensive defenseman who can limit opportunities and protect the net front is exactly the type of player the Toronto Maple Leafs are after.
“A lot of it’s gonna depend on Muzzin’s health, and where we’re at. We still have quite a bit of flexibility to get creative and try to make something happen. Unless we get the news we don’t want on Muz, I think we’ll just have the one move left.”
The Maple Leafs have a rotation of defensemen right now between Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Travis Dermott, and Justin Holl while Jake Muzzin is on the shelf. He comes with 37 games of playoff experience and could be a strong option to become a shutdown pair alongside Jake Muzzin and help limit the amount of young defenseman the team would have in its lineup heading into a playoff series.
Landing Spot 2: Nashville Predators
The Predators are poised to make some moves before the deadline considering their abundance of cap space and need to improve the blue line and forward positions. Nashville is set up well with $10,493,674 in available cap heading into the deadline, which gives them a lot of flexibility in any deal they make compared to other buying teams that are against the cap limit. This would make a deal to acquire de Haan and his $4.55 million cap hit much more simple.
Roman Josi is Nashville’s workhorse paired alongside a 23-year-old Dante Fabbro on the top pair. Mattias Ekholm is handling second-pair duties with Alexandre Carrier who has been a solid player for them this season. After that, the team is left with Ben Harpur, Matt Benning, Philippe Myers, and Mark Borowiecki to fill out the remaining two spots.
Borowiecki provides some much-needed physicality, especially in a playoff series but having a more experienced stay-at-home defenseman like de Haan to play a shutdown role would help round out Nashville’s defense corps heading into the playoffs.
Dominoes Beginning to Fall
The trade deadline is less than a week away, and with other defensemen beginning to get moved, teams will need to begin making their moves. There are a plethora of defensemen available to be acquired but whichever ones can pry Mark Giordano, Calvin de Haan and Ben Chiarot away from their respective teams will be getting massive boosts to their defense to try and make a deep playoff run.
I am a graduate of Seneca Colleges Civil Engineering Technology Program and have turned my obsession for sports into a lifestyle. I cover the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings here on The Hockey Writers but have been a diehard Maple Leafs fan since birth. I love fantasy sports, collecting sports memorabilia and when I’m not watching the Toronto Raptors, Blue Jays, or Pittsburgh Steelers; you can find me playing for my ball hockey team, playing video games, or listening to classic rock with a cold one or a coffee in my hand.