Actual difference-makers are a rare commodity at the NHL trade deadline. Some years, the crop of players available is headlined by a depth defenseman or a third-line center. That won't be the case in 2021-22, as there are a few skaters who could make a major impact.

Perhaps the gem of this season's deadline is Mark Giordano. For any contending team looking to shore things up in their own end and in transition, the Seattle Kraken defenseman has to be a primary target. 

The asking price on him will certainly be high. Kraken general manager Ron Francis needs to leverage his assets to continue building Seattle toward contention, and maximizing the return for Giordano is crucial for the organization's future.

Still, the veteran defender is the kind of skater who could put a team over the top. If a rival GM thinks his team is one defenseman away from making a real run, is a first-round pick, third-round selection and a mid-level prospect too much to trade away?

Probably not. Not if the hope is that the deal leads to a new banner in the rafters and a parade this summer. 

There are a few teams that could use Giordano's skill set and leadership. Here's where we think he could end up ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

 

Calgary Flames

Let's get the most obvious destination out of the way first.

Giordano became the heart and soul of the Calgary Flames during his 15-year career there and would provide a massive emotional boost to a team that needs a few more pieces to contend with the Western Conference's top dogs.

Calgary has come together wonderfully under head coach Darryl Sutter—a Jack Adams front-runner if you ask us—and there's no question that Giordano would be a fit here. His offensive numbers have dipped a bit in Seattle, but the Kraken rank 25th in average goals scored per game, so that is to be expected.

Meanwhile, the Flames have a top-10 offense and give up the seventh-fewest shots per game. Adding Giordano to the left side of the defense would be a boon for both the player and team. He wouldn't have to continue playing top-line minutes every night, and a slightly more sheltered offensive role for Gio would help boost his impact even more.

Regardless of where Sutter decided to slot the 38-year-old, it would make a ton of sense for the Flames to go out and reacquire their old captain. And how motivated would this group be to win a Stanley Cup for Giordano?

That effect alone might be worth the picks and prospects.

 

Florida Panthers

This might be the year for the Florida Panthers. When healthy, they are an offensive juggernaut, seemingly scoring at will and ruining opposing goalies' save percentages on a nightly basis. They have a tremendous amount of depth at forward, and they attack in swarms.

Only the equally stacked Colorado Avalanche score more goals on average than Florida (4.02 per game), and no one takes more shots on goal than them. They also have the highest shooting percentage by a wide margin.

We all know what happens during the playoffs, though. Goals are tougher to come by as teams tighten up defensively and referees put away their whistles. That's why it made sense when George Richards of Florida Hockey Now reported the team will look to upgrade on the blue line ahead of the trade deadline.