Claude Giroux is happy in Florida, and if the Panthers can somehow find enough cap space, the former Philadelphia Flyers star would not mind returning to the Sunshine State.
“I don’t have any negative things about my decision to come here,” Giroux said. “I’m very happy, and it’s a fun place to play. I believe in this group.”
Now he is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Florida’s season ended when it was stunningly swept by Tampa in the conference semifinals. The Panthers had a league-best 122 points in the regular season, but managed just three goals, total, in the four games against the two-time defending champion Lightning.
At his season-ending news conference earlier this week, Giroux was asked if he could see himself remaining with the Panthers.
“Yeah, I do,” he said.
But it’s not a slam-dunk, he hinted.
“There are a lot of things to worry about and a decision has to be made,” Giroux added. “It’s a tough question because the season ended a few days ago. It’s up to what they want to do and what I want to do. There’s a lot of conversations to be had.”
Giroux just completed an eight-year deal that paid him $8.25 million per season. Based on his age and a flat cap, he is likely to get a new deal that pays around $5-$6 million per season, though that will depend on the contract’s length.
Returning to the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that is in cap hell, is a possibility. But will they want to spend money on a player, who, though still very effective, is past his prime?
There is also a chance he signs with his hometown Ottawa Senators, a young team that is making strides. Maybe he wants to be a part of their climb and be close to his family and friends?
Like the Flyers, Florida has major cap issues and, unless it trades away players, won’t have enough money to re-sign Giroux. On the other hand, Ottawa has plenty of cap space, so the up-and-coming Senators look like the early favorite to land Giroux, who would give their young players a veteran to lean on.
Now that St. Louis has fallen out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Blues assistant Jim Montgomery is expected to be interviewed for the Flyers’ head-coaching job next week.