The Calgary Flames are the biggest losers of the trade deadline, and it has nothing to do with a trade. The Flames have lost their best player and biggest reason for their success, as it was announced Mark Giordano's season was over with a torn bicep. He requires surgery and will likely be out for 4-5 months.
The injury comes from the end of a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, right when his defence partner TJ Brodie scored a shorthanded empty netter to seal the victory; one that ultimately ended up being devastating.
So even if the Flames do manage to make the playoffs after all - something that, without Giordano, is probably not going to happen - he won't be available at all.
Giordano's loss would be a massive one for any team, but for the Flames, it's catastrophic. Other than Brodie, Giordano is the only decent defenceman the Flames have.
(Sorry guys, don't get blinded by Kris Russell's penchant for blocking shots - which means he almost never has the puck himself - or Dennis Wideman's career-high shooting percentage that's led to his offensive production this season. They're not that good, and after the Flames' top pairing, the defence is a train wreck, to put it nicely.)
Giordano led the Flames in scoring for most of the season, not to mention all NHL defencemen. His campaign finishes with 11 goals and 48 points - a new career high - over 61 games. He became one of just a handful of undrafted players to go to the NHL All-Star Game, and was a frontrunner for the Norris Trophy all season long. You could argue a legitimate case for him to have been a Hart Trophy candidate, especially if the Flames had made the playoffs.
Without him, that seems pretty unlikely. I mean, Deryk Engelland has been practicing alongside Brodie. Deryk Engelland. Let that one sink in for a moment. Claiming David Schlemko and maybe even finally playing Tyler Wotherspoon won't fix this, either.
The Flames have defied the odds all season by staying in the playoff picture. Now, it's probably time to abandon that dream.
I know I'm going to get some flak for that statement, and you can choose to believe what you will, but consider: the Flames just lost their number one defenceman on a defence core that isn't really good. The Flames just lost their MVP, scoring and ice time leader, and captain. If they were going to make the playoffs to begin with, it was going to be because of Mark Giordano.
That's no longer possible. And the Flames' season has likely just ended with Gio's.
So while players themselves will never tank, and the coaches and management are probably never going to have internal instructions to lose as much as possible... the Flames need to start losing as much as possible. Barring a miraculous lottery victory, they aren't going to get Connor McDavid. But with 20 games left, the more they lose now, the better a chance they'll have at getting a top 10 pick.
For a rebuilding team that didn't have much of a hope to do anything in the playoffs to begin with, as high a pick as possible is absolutely crucial. The Flames only have five more points than teams in position for a top 10 pick. Couple their precarious position with the loss of their best player, and it's certainly possible they fall just hard enough.
At the start of the season, I said the worst possible thing that could happen to the Flames was going to be to just miss the playoffs. Even with Giordano, that was looking likely to happen. The Los Angeles Kings are a better team, and were finally overtaking the Flames. As for the wild card spots, not only are the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild better teams, but in the lead up to the trade deadline they did a lot to improve.
No Giordano means the Flames' chances of finishing ninth in the west just dropped drastically. No Giordano means other teams should start passing the Flames. Other teams passing the Flames means a better pick. The Flames are still rebuilding, and a good pick is absolutely crucial for this team; especially on defence, as Giordano's loss is about to prove.
So in a way, losing Giordano might just be good for the long-term future of the Flames. They'll likely pick a player that wouldn't have been available to them had they stayed in the playoff hunt all season long. And if they handle it right, they'll likely end up being a better team sooner rather than later.
Maybe even soon enough that they'll be legitimate playoff threats before Giordano inevitably declines due to age. And really, an improved Flames team with Giordano still in, or very much near, his prime is the best thing for this team.