Colin Blackwell, Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: USA Today

The official trade details are now known on the Maple Leafs’ acquisition of Mark Giordano: They will also add winger Colin Blackwell to the fold while shipping a 2022 second-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick to the Kraken. Seattle retained half of Giordano’s $6.75 million contract that expires at the end of the season.

In Colin Blackwell, the Leafs have acquired a small (5’9) but hardworking forward who has frequently matched up against top competition on a line with Yanni Gourde this season. The Blackwell-Gourde-Appleton line has been tough to play against for the opposition.

A right-shooting winger who can also play on the left side, Blackwell is known for his versatility. The 28-year-old can kill penalties, play in a checking line role, or complement skilled forwards. Last season, he spent a lot of time on a line with Artemi Panarin in New York. While undersized, his work ethic will likely make him a fan favourite.

Blackwell’s production wasn’t overly impressive as a rookie, but he hasn’t had a problem putting the puck in the net over the past two seasons. He’s scored 1.05 goals per minute at 5-on-5 over that time, which is just below Brandon Hagel and ahead of Leafs players like Jason Spezza, Ilya Mikheyev, Pierre Engvall, and Alex Kerfoot. Like Hagel, he has an inflated 16% shooting percentage during that time and benefitted from playing with great playmakers.

Expect Blackwell to play on the wing. He could potentially play with John Tavares on the second line; he’s used to playing with skilled players like Panarin, Gourde, and Ryan Strome. He could fill in on the checking line if an injury occurred, or reunite with Alex Kerfoot on the fourth line, who was his teammate at Harvard. His ability to play on either wing is valuable.

Blackwell hasn’t racked up many primary assists over the past two seasons, and his five-on-five scoring production is fairly comparable to Ondrej Kase or Ilya Mikheyev, though that’s with an inflated shooting percentage. He’s graded out quite well defensively this season by Evolving Hockey’s RAPM, but graded out quite poorly last season — perhaps that’s a product of playing on a very offensive-focused line last year, and a more defensive focused line this year.

At the very least, adding Blackwell is good insurance in case Ondrej Kase misses time. He’s not quite the “no doubt about it top-six forward” that would 100% fix Toronto’s second line, but they could try him there if they don’t make any other moves up-front. His versatility is nice to have, and you could try to extend him to a team-friendly contract if all goes well.

All told, the Maple Leafs didn’t end up sacrificing the first-round pick Kyle Dubas cherished or any of this top prospects (which likely kept him out of the bidding on Hampus Lindholm); he instead gave up two seconds and a third.  The third-round pick acquired in the Travis Dermott trade with Vancouver helps offset the loss of the 2022 second, leaving the Leafs with only slightly reduced draft capital this summer (three picks: TOR 1st, WPG 3rd, TOR 7th).

For a deep dive on what the Maple Leafs are getting in Mark Giordano and his fit in the Leafs defense corps, see our analysis from earlier today.