When the 2014 Norris Trophy votes were tallied, Duncan Keith came out on top, but one interesting choice received a first-place nod: Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano.
Some probably snickered at the idea of handing a top vote to a relatively obscure blueliner who only appeared in 64 games (playing on one of the worst teams in the league), but there’s a reason Team Canada’s brass pondered adding him to the Olympic roster: he had an incredible 2013-14 season.
The 30-year-old wowed onlookers of just about any leaning, whether it be in the area of traditional narratives or “advanced stats.”
Giordano almost seemed to will a bad team to be respectable, with his impact on the ice being comically drastic at times, as Tyler Dellow pointed out. Despite facing very tough competition and being put in unfriendly situations (he didn’t get cozy zone starts), Giordano enjoyed great possession stats that only looked more amazing compared to his teammates.
Oh yeah, he also scored 47 points in 64 games, which is a pace of 60 over a full season. His status as the Flames captain combines with those offensive numbers to make him a favorite of “old-school” types while his ability to push the play (even in challenging situations) makes him commendable in the stats community.
Really, the only question that puts a slight damper on things is whether he can be quite as impressive in the future. Giordano has long been respected as an underrated defenseman, but those arguments were often made for him either getting a roster spot or more ice time. Can we expect him to regularly be in elite conversations?
Extra Skater’s numbers imply that he’s been a bit erratic, though regularly useful. Here’s a simplified version of their dashboard stats to give you an idea of the mix:
|Season||GP||G||P||Corsi For%||Corsi Rel%||PDO||Zone Start%||ZS Rel%||PK time||QoC TOI%||QoT TOI%|
Overall, Giordano looks like he can be trusted to at least be good-to-very-good. He’s quietly become a dependable point producer, even if he may slow down from last season’s blistering pace. Even if he’s not the possession demon he was last season, he can probably at least survive in difficult situations or exploit beneficial ones. In other words, the hype surrounding Giordano seems largely reasonable.
It’s uncertain that he’ll be worthy of Norris consideration as he legitimately was last season, but the Flames will take all the quality players they can get … and Giordano has a strong chance to be the Flames’ best player (or at least among their best players) for some time.
If he comes anywhere close to last season’s work, don’t bat an eye if the Norris buzz only builds.