Giordano or Tanev? Flames face tough Kraken expansion draft question

Giordano or Tanev? Flames still face tough Kraken expansion draft question
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Peruse Cap Friendly’s fantastic Seattle Kraken expansion draft simulator, or merely leaf through various protected player projections, and you might note that it’s still unclear how many NHL teams will handle all this. Who are the right players to expose or protect? Rank the Calgary Flames among the teams facing the toughest expansion draft protection questions.

Now, for teams like the Penguins, the possibilities feel overwhelming.

In some cases, it’s not yet clear if teams will protect players from the Seattle Kraken in the more typical 7-3-1 expansion draft format (seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie) or go with eight skaters of any kind (you’d assume four forwards and four defensemen) and a goalie.

If various reports are correct, the Flames’ burning Kraken expansion draft protection question is straightforward. But choosing between Mark Giordano and Christopher Tanev might not necessarily be “easy.”

(Note: the Flames are virtually certain to protect Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson as two of their three defensemen. Thus, it comes down to Tanev or Giordano [or a bribe/side deal].)

The case for Flames protecting Tanev instead of Giordano

When the Flames signed Chris Tanev to a four-year, $18 million contract, it honestly seemed like a mistake. This was an aging, one-dimensional player whose defensive dimension didn’t even look so hot in 2019-20.

To put things mildly, Tanev exceeded expectations in 2020-21. For a largely disappointing Flames team, Tanev ended up being one of the stingiest defenders in the NHL. With Giordano taking a step back, you could argue Tanev brought more value to the table last season.

Check out how they compared at even-strength by Evolving Hockey’s RAPM charts:

Tanev Giordano RAPM Giordano or Tanev? Flames still face tough Kraken expansion draft question
via Evolving Hockey

Tanev, 31, carries a $4.5M cap hit for three more seasons. Meanwhile, Giordano, 37, sees his contract ($6.75M AAV) expire after 2021-22.

Considering Tanev’s younger age, and strong 2020-21 season, The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian and other Flames observers believe that the team should protect Tanev. That would mean exposing Giordano, or working out a side deal with the Kraken.

There’s room to debate the matter further, though.

Possible slippage for Tanev?

When you start zooming out, two things become a bit more complicated.

  1. Comparing Giordano vs. Tanev, as players.
  2. Considering their contracts, and perhaps trade scenarios.

It’s reasonable to expect Tanev to deliver strong defense in 2021-22. That said, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll always see “2019-20 Tanev.” One reason people grimaced at his contract was that, even late in his Canucks years, it looked like his rugged style was starting to catch up with him.

Frankly, it’s remarkable how much things change if you tweak your view. When a three-year Evolving Hockey player card goes from 2018-19 through 2020-21, Tanev looks like a defensive stud. And you don’t worry much about negligible offense:

Tanev last three
via Evolving Hockey

If you merely change the range from 2017-18 to 2019-20, things look a little shakier:

Tanev prev three Giordano or Tanev? Flames still face tough Kraken expansion draft question
via Evolving Hockey

(Meanwhile Giordano shines under just about all parameters.)

It’s not 100-percent clear if Tanev will be more worth keeping in sheer hockey terms next season. GAR projections, for instance, predict comparable defensive results for both, with Giordano bringing more offense.

So, while Tanev delivered great value in 2020-21, there’s a chance for slippage.

Comparing contracts: a matter of perspective

It’s important to note that Tanev at $4.5M looks great now, but it might not age well. (Strangely enough, there are even louder worries about Brandon Tanev. Tanev’s a very nice player, yet term and cap hit present a cost-benefit question.)

Of course, at 37, Giordano’s at an even greater risk for a collapse. That’s fair even if you realize that Giordano isn’t that far removed from a Norris Trophy win, and profiles as a more well-rounded player than Tanev.

But context is crucial, too.

If the Flames were a no-doubt contender, then it would make total sense to try to keep the band together as much as possible. Tanev’s additional years, and younger age, would make him a clear choice over Giordano. That would be true even if Tanev played over his head last season.

Instead, the Flames are in a murky spot. Calgary missed the playoffs despite a wonky North Division, and it’s unclear if they’ll maintain most of that Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanMatthew Tkachuk core.

With that in mind, Giordano’s contract becomes a potential building block for the future. The Flames could trade Giordano, either during the offseason or around the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

Even if Giordano walked, he wouldn’t totally walk for nothing. His $6.75M cap hit would dissolve, giving the Flames leeway to add for the future.

If that’s the path the Flames are considering (or at least want as an option), then suddenly losing Giordano to the Seattle Kraken looks a lot worse. Elliotte Friedman recently pondered the Kraken selecting Giordano and then merely trading him in “31 Thoughts.”

A tough call

Really, it’s understandable if the Flames are pondering exposing Giordano, but bribing the Kraken not to take him in the expansion draft. That could create an even uglier scenario if the Flames fall on their faces once again in 2021-22. Especially if the bribe would cost more than they’d receive if they decided to trade Giordano later.

Losing Tanev in the expansion draft would be agonizing for the Flames, as well, though. Especially if he plays at or near the level of defense he provided last season.

Perhaps the Flames would just be “pulling off the Band-Aid” if they just exposed Giordano to the Kraken? Maybe Giordano’s age (and even his $6.75M AAV) would scare Seattle off? If nothing else, that would provide the Flames with extra cap space to work with this offseason.

(Look at how much future money the Wild burned with those Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, in part to gear up this summer.)

Overall, the Giordano – Tanev expansion draft question is a difficult one for the Flames. Really, this franchise faces plenty of riddles this offseason. It’s one of those times where maybe it’s not so sad that running a hockey team is merely a fantasy for most of us.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Teravainen scores late, Hurricanes rally to beat Rangers 3-2

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NEW YORK – Teuvo Teravainen scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Frederik Andersen stopped 29 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to beat the New York Rangers 3-2.

Jalen Chatfield and Stefan Noesen also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes, who won for the third time in four games.

With the comeback win, the Hurricanes became the second team – following Boston – to reach the 100-point mark this season as Carolina increased its Metropolitan Division-lead over second-place New Jersey to two points and the third-place Rangers to eight.

“That was a great effort. All 20 guys contributed and we got what we deserved,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “If we play like that, we’ll be in good shape. This time of year it gets tougher and tougher.”

Tyler Motte and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Rangers, who had won four straight were 6-0-1 in their last seven. Igor Shesterkin finished with 36 saves as the Rangers played their third game in four nights – the previous two shutout wins at home.

“Igor kept us in there as long as he could and we just didn’t have enough in the tank,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. ”They won more battles and played a hard game.”

Teravainen scored his 11th goal with 2:33 left on a pass from defenseman Brent Burns, redirecting the puck past Shesterkin. The Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1.

“Somehow they left me open in the back side, great pass by him,” Teravainen said of the winning-goal pass to him in the slot. “We knew this would be a tough night. They have a good team. We knew we had to battle to win this game.”

The Rangers led 1-0 entering the third and were vying for their third-straight shutout before Chatfield tied the score at 9:49 – the first goal the Rangers allowed in more than eight periods. New York was coming off a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Shesterkin in goal and a 7-0 triumph over Nashville behind Jaroslav Halak on Sunday.

Kakko then put New York back ahead 31 seconds later with his 13th goal, only to have Noesen answer right back 18 seconds later to tie it 2-2.

Motte opened the scoring at the 17-minute mark of the first, knocking the puck past Andersen for his third goal in four games and sixth of the season overall.

The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation since a 4-2 defeat on March 4 at Boston.

“Tonight we didn’t play near well enough to beat that team,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Honestly, the whole game they outplayed us. They were a lot quicker. They managed the puck real well … We didn’t play our game.”


Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal played his 729th game with Carolina on Tuesday, tying defenseman Glen Wesley for the second-most games played in franchise history since relocation from Hartford in 1997. Staal, 34, trails only his brother Eric, who played 909 games for the Hurricanes from 2003-16.


Hurricanes: Host the Rangers on Thursday night to finish the home-and-home set in the opener of a four-game homestand.

Rangers: At Carolina on Thursday night to open a two-game trip.

Ullmark’s 40 saves carries Bruins past Senators, 2-1

ullmark game 2
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BOSTON – Linus Ullmark made 40 saves, Jake DeBrusk had the go-ahead goal and the NHL-best Boston Bruins continued their pursuit of the league’s record for regular-season victories with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

“I thought he was outstanding and he needed to be,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said of Ullmark. “Unfortunately we gave up a lot of good looks, a lot of odd-man rushes because of our puck management and he bailed us out like he has all year.”

David Krejci added a power-play goal for Boston, which won its fourth straight.

Dylan Gambrell scored for the Senators and Mads Sogaard made 33 stops.

“We had a shooters’ mentality for two periods,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “The third period, they’ve won 54 games now, they’re not going to give you an odd-man rush, they’re not going to give you anything. You’re going to have to earn it.”

The Bruins posted their 54th win and with 12 games left are on pace to break the mark of 62, set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96 and matched by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018-19.

Chasing the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, Ottawa has lost six of seven following a season-high, five-game winning streak.

Coming off a 3-2 road trip where they won the last three games by a combined score of 15-2 that included two shutouts by backup Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins converted on a two-man, power-play advantage to tie the game at 1 midway into the opening period when Krejci poked in a rebound from the edge of the crease.

DeBrusk completed a nifty play with Brad Marchand when he collected a pass cutting down the slot at full speed, shifted and tucked a rebound past Sogaard at 15:52 of the first period for his 23rd goal.

“It was ‘all world.’ I saw him and he fed it through a lot of guys for a breakaway,” DeBrusk said of the pass. “It was one of those passes where I didn’t know what to do. I was going to point at him (after) but I was going too fast.”

Gambrell’s wraparound score gave Ottawa a 1-0 edge.

“I thought I played a good game today,” Sogaard said. “I just battled and stayed with it the entire way. … These ones are tough because we were so close.”


Ullmark stopped 22 shots in the second period with at least a dozen of them high-quality chances. During an Ottawa PP, he jumped from a crouch to make a right-shoulder stop on Alex DeBrincat’s bid from in close.

“We talked about it,” defenseman Hampus Lindholm said of the second period. “We know we’re a good team in the third and wanted to tighten it up for him. … They got a lot of chances that were our own fault in the second.”


The Bruins highlighted women who work and compete in the sports community, having Olympic gold medalist and Boston Pride defender Kali Flanagan accompany Bruins players during pregame walk-ins along with local high school scholastic award winners. In addition, in-arena host Michaela Johnson handled the PA for the night and they also left yellow roses at the seats of female reporters.

NOTES: The Senators entered the game as the only team holding an advantage in their series against the Bruins this season, winning twice in three games. … Montgomery said after the morning skate that defenseman Derek Forbort would likely be sidelined with a lower-body injury at least through the rest of the regular season. … DeBrusk, playing on the top line most of the season, is four off his career-high goal total, set in 2018-19.


Senators: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Bruins: Host longtime rival Montreal in an Original Six matchup Thursday.

Boldy’s goal with 1.3 left in OT lifts Wild over Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. – Matt Boldy scored with 1.3 seconds left in overtime and Filip Gustavsson made a career-high 47 saves to give the Minnesota Wild a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

The game was a chippy, defensive struggle. After two scoreless periods, the Devils were outshooting the Wild 22-19.

Minnesota finally broke through 6:41 into the third when Mason Shaw scored his seventh goal of the season on a wraparound.

Timo Meier answered for the Devils five minutes later with his 35th goal of the season on a wraparound of his own.

New Jersey was unable to convert on a late power play, and the teams went to overtime.

It was a back-and-forth five minutes of extra hockey, with both goaltenders making good saves. After Jack Hughes hit the post for the Devils, the puck caromed off a post to Boldy and he beat the buzzer with his 23rd goal of the season.

Vitek Vanecek stopped 27 shots for New Jersey.

NOTES: The Devils are 10-4 in overtime, while the Wild improved to 4-5.


Wild: Play at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Devils: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar signs extension through 2026-27

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DENVER – Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar signed a three-year extension that will keep him in charge of the reigning Stanley Cup champions through the 2026-27 season.

The new deal for the winningest head coach in club history kicks in once the current contract runs out after the 2023-24 season.

Bednar, 51, is the only person to win championships in the ECHL, AHL and NHL as head coach. He directed the Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup title in team history last season by beating Tampa Bay, the two-time defending champions.

This season, the Avalanche have dealt with an array of injuries, which include missing captain Gabriel Landeskog all year after he underwent knee surgery in October. But they’re starting to creep closer to being healthy – and working their way up the standings. Colorado is riding a six-game winning streak to remain in a tight race with Dallas and Minnesota for the Central Division crown. The top spot in the Western Conference is in play, too.

“Jared has done a tremendous job behind the bench and certainly deserves this extension and to continue as the leader of our team,” Joe Sakic, the team’s president of hockey operations, said in a statement.

It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for Bednar in his inaugural season for Colorado. In 2016-17, his team amassed only 48 points (22-56-4) to finish last in the league. Since then, it’s been full steam ahead for Bednar and the Avalanche. They became the first NHL squad to go from worst to first in a span of four seasons or less since the 1970-71 Bruins, according to research by the team.

In addition, Bednar has led the Avalanche to five straight playoff appearances – and is closing in on a sixth – to become the first Avalanche coach to accomplish the feat. His 40 postseason wins are the second-most in team history, trailing only Bob Hartley (49).

“His strength as a communicator, his relationship with the players, the way he prepares each and every day is a huge reason our team has been so successful,” general manager Chris MacFarland said. “He is an exceptional leader.”

Bednar is currently the third-longest tenured coach in the league, behind only Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (December 2015).

“Being able to lead this team over the last seven years has been a privilege,” said Bednar, whose team faces the Penguins on Wednesday. “I am grateful and excited to have the opportunity to continue building on what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Bednar captured a Kelly Cup (ECHL) with the South Carolina Stingrays in 2009, along with a Calder Cup (AHL) with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016.