DONE DEAL: Flyers’ Claude Giroux traded to Florida
Claude Giroux, the longest-tenured captain in the Philadelphia Flyers’ history, will have a chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers.
The 34-year-old center/winger waived his no-movement clause and was dealt Saturday to the Panthers in a package that included power forward Owen Tippett.
The Flyers will get the Panthers’ No. 1 pick in 2024 and their No. 3 pick in 2023. Philly will also retain half of Giroux’s salary/cap hit.
Besides Giroux, Flyers prospects German Rubtsov and Connor Bunnaman, along with a fifth-round draft pick in 2024, will go to the Panthers.
“Any day that you trade your captain is a tough day, and with how much Claude has meant to this organization and how he has represented himself for 15 years, makes it all that more difficult to say goodbye,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Claude is one of the best players to ever wear a Flyer uniform.”
Fletcher said the organization was “very excited” to add Tippett, calling him a “young forward who already has NHL experience and will bring power, speed and skill to our group. He is someone we expect to fit into our lineup immediately.”
Tippett was drafted by Florida in the first round (10th overall) in 2017.
Florida and Colorado, two strong Cup contenders, were believed the finalists in the Giroux Sweepstakes.
According to reports, Colorado made an offer, but Florida was the only team Giroux was willing to go to. If so — and if the Panthers were aware of it — that limited Fletcher’s bargaining power.
The Panthers earlier traded their first-round draft picks for this year and 2023, making a deal more tricky. The Panthers originally didn’t want to deal their top pick in three straight years, but they decided to go all in.
Obviously, they felt Giroux will be a difference-maker. In 57 games this season, he has 42 points, including 18 goals.
As my sharp-eyed colleague, George Richards of Florida Hockey Now, pointed out: Giroux’s hockey life has come full circle. Giroux’s first NHL goal was scored in Florida in 2009 against Tomas Vokoun. Florida won that game, 3-2.
Florida has some good prospects, including 23-year-old right winger Tippett, injured left winger Grigori Denisenko (18 points in 30 AHL games this season), and University of Michigan right winger Mackie Samoskevich, a freshman who has 26 points in 36 games. All are former first-round selections.
I originally thought the Flyers would get more for Giroux. Thought it would be more like a No. 1 pick, Tippett, and either Denisenko or Samoskevich.
It’s important to note, however, that Fletcher was hamstrung. He couldn’t play different teams’ offers against one another — which would have raised the return — because he could only negotiate with teams on Giroux’s list.
Tippett played on Florida’s second line a lot last season, and in the playoffs, alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett. He had four points in six playoff games. This year, he was on the second, third, and fourth lines or Florida (14 points in 42 games) before being sent down to Charlotte in the AHL, where the Flyers scouted him numerous times.
He appears to be a healthier version of Flyers prospect Wade Allison, though scouts say the 6-1, 207-pound Tippett has a higher upside. Tippett has a hard shot, plays with an edge, and has good speed.
“But he goes into lulls,” said one scout. “He can be a very good player when he wants to be. Love his shot.”
Some reports said Colorado had offered promising defenseman Justin Barron and their first-round draft pick in 2023.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Barron, 20, was a first-round selection in the 2020 draft (25th overall). He has spent most of the season with the Avs’ AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. In 42 games, he has 20 points (five goals, 15 assists), and a plus-12 rating.
Raise your hand, Philly fans, if the @FlaPanthers just became your favorite team through the Stanley Cup playoffs. #Flyers
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 19, 2022
In parts of 15 seasons with the Flyers, Giroux played in 1,000 games, collected 900 points, and established himself among the leaders in most franchise categories.
All that’s missing is a Stanley Cup.
Now, he will get that chance in the Sunshine State.
The Flyers understood Giroux’s desire to win a Cup, and they don’t feel abandoned.
“We would be happy for him, especially me,” center Sean Couturier said when asked earlier in the week how he would feel if Giroux was traded. “I’ve been around him since the start of my career. Have learned so much from him. The time and the effort that he’s put into this organization (is amazing). You just wish him all the best, whether it’s here or somewhere else. He’s a guy who definitely deserves to win once in his career.”
Giroux is a prospective UFA, so it’s not out of the question that he re-signs with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer.
“I feel like I had a great relationship with the fans and this city,” Giroux said after playing in his 1,000th game Thursday, a 5-4 win over visiting Nashville. “I get them, and they get me. I love them, and that’s one of the reasons why tonight was so tough.”
If Claude Giroux keeps No. 28, here are some who wore it in #FlaPanthers history: Patrick Lebeau, Magnus Svensson, Martin Straka, Peter Worrell, Jaroslav Spacek, Jason Wiemer, Kamil Kreps, Hugh Jessiman, Garrett Wilson, Aleksi Saarela.https://t.co/2FJ4cxNeej
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) March 19, 2022
He called it the most emotional game of is career. After the victory, he did a victory lap, waving his stick to the fans and wiping tears from his face. His teammates stayed on the ice, tapping their sticks to show their appreciation for a franchise icon.
Giroux, who had been the longest-tenured athlete among all of Philadelphia’s pro sports teams, was saying goodbye to the fans and teammates, and they knew they were saying goodbye to him.
The Flyers traveled to Ottawa to play the Senators on Friday, but Giroux didn’t make the trip because management didn’t want him to get injured. He also wasn’t going to play in Sunday’s home game against the Islanders.
For the Philadelphia Flyers, the LAG (Life After Giroux) period is officially underway.