COLUMBUS — Mark Giordano can’t wait for tonight’s NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
“To be drafted is going to feel great,” he said. “I’ve never been drafted before.”
Giordano, of course, went undrafted out of junior. At 31, he’s now a Norris Trophy candidate with the Calgary Flames. And you never know, if his team makes the playoffs, he could be right there in the Hart Trophy discussion.
“I think I’ve become a better player, obviously, over the years,” he said. “There’s a lot of great players in the NHL, and not in the NHL. A lot of it has to do with opportunity and being in the right place at the right time.”
Giordano, whose career path included a season in Russia with Moscow Dynamo, also believes defensemen are more likely to become late-bloomers.
“You’ve got to play a bunch of seasons before you really understand that it’s all about position and not running around and making bad reads,” he said. “For young guys to come in and be really effective defensemen, like [Drew Doughty and Aaron Ekblad], they’re pretty special players to be able to read the game the way they do at such a young age.”
Giordano was asked, if he were an NHL general manager with a late-round draft pick to use on a defenseman, what would he look for?
“The number one thing is hockey IQ,” he said. “Just look for a guy who reads the game well and sees the ice. At the end of the day, playing in your own zone is going to take a while. I think if you can look for guys who can move the puck and make plays, those are guys you can build around.”
Finally, he was asked if, in hindsight, he did deserve to be drafted.
“No, not at the time,” he said. “I was playing my second year of junior. I wasn’t really a star. I think I got a lot better as I got older.”