Toronto Maple Leafs bulk up on defense, acquire veteran Mark Giordano, 38, from Seattle Kraken

Seattle Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, the teams announced.

Seattle also sent center Colin Blackwell to the Maple Leafs and retained 50% of Giordano's salary-cap hit. In exchange, the expansion Kraken acquired second-round draft picks this year and next year, as well as a third-round choice in 2024.

Giordano, 38, was the Kraken's inaugural captain after spending 15 seasons in Calgary. Giordano will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and met with Seattle general manager Ron Francis earlier this month to discuss his future. Giordano expressed a desire to be traded to a contender so he can chase a Stanley Cup this spring, according to sources.

The Maple Leafs have a top-five offense in terms of goals per game but have been looking to shore up -- and retool -- the defense to get past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Last month, the Maple Leafs sent forward Nick Ritchie and a conditional draft choice to Arizona in exchange for defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin, who has been on Toronto's third pairing most of March. And later on Sunday, they shipped defenseman Travis Dermott, a healthy scratch of late, to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round draft pick this summer.

The Kraken had high hopes that Giordano, 38, would provide the veteran leadership to put them in contention for the playoffs -- similar to what the Vegas Golden Knights did in their inaugural season. However, Seattle never jelled like Vegas. The Kraken are firmly in last place in the Pacific Division, and last week they took Giordano out of the lineup to protect him from injury.

Since notching 74 points and winning the Norris Trophy in 2018-19 with the Flames, Giordano's numbers have fallen off. But he still has 23 points in 55 games this season.

Giordano is in the final year of a six-year contract that carries a $6.75 million cap hit per season. According to sources, Giordano is keeping an open mind about his future.

The Kraken, meanwhile, have now acquired six picks via two trades leading up to Monday's trade deadline. Seattle, looking forward to developing the team through the draft, now has 10 picks in this year's draft and owns four of the top 64 selections in each of the next two drafts.

This marks the second consecutive year the Maple Leafs will add a captain of another team ahead of the trade deadline. Last year, Toronto acquired former Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno for a first round pick.

Toronto is firmly in playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but its seed is very much in question. The Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning have been wrestling for the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Division, but the Boston Bruins, in the No. 1 wild-card slot, aren't far away from catching Toronto.

If the season ended Sunday, the Maple Leafs would meet the Lightning in the first round.