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Ex-Flyers captain Claude Giroux on top line as he prepares to make Florida debut



Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is feeling comfortable with his new team, the Florida Panthers.

After all, how could you not be comfortable playing on a line centered by Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov?

Giroux (18 goals) has been practicing on Florida’s top line with Barkov and left winger Carter Verhaeghe (21 goals). A great line got even more dynamic. Giroux, who played primarily left wing and center with the Flyers, is the right winger on the unit.

“It’s always great having a player like that on your wing,” said Barkov, who has 26 goals and 62 points.

Playing on a line with Barkov, Giroux said the other day, would be like the first day of school, “just giggling a little bit.”

According to my colleague, George Richards at Florida Hockey Now, Barkov grinned when told of Giroux’s remarks. Even though Barkov said the start of school was not his favorite time of year, he was happy to have a talented new teammate join him. (BTW, follow George on Twitter at @GeorgeRichards to keep up with Giroux in Florida.)

“I think we’re going to have a lot of fun playing together,” Barkov told Panthers reporters Tuesday. “We have such a great team, have a lot of guys who can play with anyone. I’m just really happy to be a part of this team.”

On Tuesday, Giroux joined the Panthers for his first practice with the full squad, even though his black-and-orange Flyers gloves holding an orange-accented stick clashed with the rest of his Florida Panthers’ color scheme.

Beside playing on the first line, he is expected to be on the Panthers’ top power-play unit.

Giroux, 34, the Philadelphia Flyers’ captain the last 10 years, was traded to the Panthers in a blockbuster deal Saturday. He will make his Florida debut Thursday in Montreal.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” Giroux said. “It’s exciting to see how deep this team is.”

Florida is 42-14-6 for 90 points, and it sits atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Panthers are first in the Atlantic Division, and they look poised to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Giroux waived his no-movement clause to go to Florida, the only team he agreed to be traded to.

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