We can’t be sure if Ron Francis had this in mind before the protected lists were released, but they surely built the Seattle Kraken from the backend. Defense wins championships they say…
Seattle Kraken First Pair
There is little doubt that the centerpiece of the 2021-22 Kraken team is going to be Mark Giordano. This man replaced the legendary Flame, Jarome Iginla, as captain when Iginla was traded in 2012. The shoes to fill were large but this undrafted workhorse slid them on and they fit like a glove!
Having played 949 games, all with the Flames, this specimen has recorded 143 goals and 366 assists for 509 career points. That’s good for 0.5 points per game. Gio was named Norris Trophy winner a mere three seasons ago after posting 74 points to go with a +39 rating… at the age of 35!
So why should we be excited about the 37 soon-to-be 38-year-old? Besides the resume above, the Kraken will have their first captain in team history. A man that knows what it takes to play in this league and do so at a level not many do.
Giordano is also one of the most in-shape players in the league. His off-ice dedication to fitness and keeping his body in tip-top shape is unparalleled in today’s game.
As far as on the ice, expect a puck-moving defenseman with stellar vision and crisp tape-to-tape passes. The first powerplay unit will run through Gio and a lot of offense will be provided by him. He eats minutes like nobody’s business and will block a staggering amount of shots (110 last season, good for 6th overall).
The most likely candidate to fill in the right side will be the monster, Jamie Oleksiak. At 6 foot 7 inches and 255 lb, Oleksiak is one of the biggest players in the league. Drafted 11th overall in 2011, Oleksiak has been lurking on the Dallas Stars blue line his whole career, minus a small stint in Pittsburgh before being traded back to the Stars.
Jamie will be counted on to be the yang to the offensive yin of Giordano. He will provide an unmistakable physical presence on the back end but will not be a liability defensively. One would think his size would be a hindrance to his skating, but that is not the case. Oleksiak, while not being an overly impressive fighter, will drop the gloves when necessary to protect his teammates.
He led the Stars in hits last season with 148 and was second on the team with 88 blocked shots. With these two guys on the ice, Grubauer will have less rubber to stop. Jamie will also eat minutes, routinely averaging over 16 minutes a game for his career but over 20 per game last season in Dallas.
At the top, the first pairing is going to be a formidable one. No one knows how long Giordano is going to be around (he’s got one year left on his deal) so while he is here, the Kraken need to exploit his knowledge and services. As far as top pair D goes, this isn’t one of the best there is, but the Kraken could do a lot worse.Embed from Getty Images
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