Our fourth and final look at the Flyers’ team awards (after trying to decide who was the best defenseman, most improved player, “class guy”, and who had the “most heart”) brings us to the Bobby Clarke Trophy, given yearly to the team’s most valuable player.
Below are our staff’s votes, with varying amounts of elaboration. Try not to be overly shocked by what you see here.
Brad: Claude Giroux. All I have to say about him is that if you’re even a little bit in the conversation to win the Hart Trophy you’re probably the team’s MVP. Easy. With that being said, I do want to give an honorable mention to Sean Couturier here. His impact on the success that the Flyers have had this season shouldn’t be overlooked.
Kurt: Claude Giroux. A contrarian could make a case for Couturier or Ghost, but let’s not overthink it. Claude’s career year is absolutely the biggest reason why the Flyers are even a little bit relevant this season, and he should be recognized as such.
Jake: There’s a decent argument to be made for a few players here, but in my opinion, the strongest argument is for the captain. Claude Giroux has had a phenomenal year. After seeing his numbers decline for 4 straight seasons, many began to wonder if we were beginning to see the end for Giroux. Last year was particularly hard to watch, as the captain not only didn’t produce, but didn’t look good in the process. I had hoped it was mostly due to his hip and abdominal surgery from the previous off-season, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried if we had seen the best of Giroux.
Even the most optimistic of Flyers fans could not have predicted a season like this from our fearless leader. Giroux is having a career year at the age of 30 and may even reach 30 goals for the first time in his career. He is a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate for MVP of the league (at least he should be), so I feel it is only appropriate that he be named the MVP of this team.
Kelly: Claude Giroux. This, this is the award that Claude Giroux has earned this season. Is he technically most improved? Oh hell yes, he definitely is. But even more than that, he is the heart and soul of this team. He is the reason we’re looking at the playoffs. He is, without a single question, the *most* valuable player on this team.
Jason: Claude Giroux: I will be accepting no other answers at this time. That’s my captain (in Terrell Owens crying voice).
Kyle: Well, the obvious choice here is Brandon Manning. I mean where would we be this season without his fights down three goals with less than five minutes to go, or his lack of defensive awareness despite being a “stay at home defenseman”. He is clearly the MVP of this hockey team. For real, Claude Giroux is definitely the winner. The captain is having the best season of his career at age 30 and has quieted any talks of decline. I don’t think it’s been talked about enough this season how much fun it is to watch this guy play hockey when healthy.
Steph: Claude Giroux. There is no other option, it’s Claude through and through.
Mike: If you would have told me before the season that Claude Giroux would bounce back I’d have agreed with you. I’d also say that would entail somewhere in the range of 60 points and I’d have been over the moon. Well, Giroux has already set a new career-high in points as of this writing with 95, goals with 29 and assists with 66. His previous career-high was 93 points in his age-24 season playing with a future Hall of Famer you might have heard of. Giroux has been outstanding in all situations, not just on the power play, and has led by example all season long. He’s scored some massive goals and helped squeeze elusive offense out of Sean Couturier and has helped Travis Konecny blossom in his second season. Given the lack of production the Flyers get from their third and fourth lines, they’ve needed every bit of offense from Giroux and he’s given them top-five scoring production. Where would the Flyers be without their captain this season? Yeah, I don’t wanna think about it either.
Bill: It is fitting that in the season Claude Giroux surpassed Eric Lindros on the franchise points list he will surpass him on total team MVP awards as well. Both Lindros and Giroux have been awarded the Bobby Clarke Trophy four times, and this year should be G’s fifth.
Giroux has set career highs in both goals and assists while captaining a team beginning its transition towards younger talent to the playoffs. Giroux embraced his position change and made all of his line mates better. Coming into the year Sean Couturier had never eclipsed 15 goals or 39 points in a single season. Going into this season’s final week, Couts has broken both the 30-goal and 70-point plateaus. Jake Voracek, a dynamic player in his own right, was scoring at a 1.26 point-per-game pace while playing opposite Giroux. Since being bumped off G’s line, Jakub has put up 0.86 points-per-game.
Travis Konecny, on the other hand, was putting up 0.36 points-per-game in the first 105 games of his career prior to being teamed with Giroux. Since his promotion, Konecny is scoring at a 0.86 points-per-game pace, and has produced at a near MVP-level at even-strength since Christmas. While Konecny deserves much of the credit for improving his game and stepping up to his new role, Giroux’s contributions cannot be ignored.
Giroux leads the team in points, is challenging for the goal-scoring lead, has contributed to 40% of his team’s goals, leads the team in face-offs taken despite his move to wing and has won nearly 60% of his draws while playing over 20 minutes every night in all situations. Giroux deserves consideration among the top-five in Hart Trophy MVP voting, and if another Flyer has a case as the team’s MVP, I’d love to hear it.
Craig: Claude Giroux. Short and sweet. His bounce-back season has resulted in a career-high for points in a season. He’s not only the Flyers’ MVP, he could end up being the league’s MVP.
Ben: Claude Giroux.
Maddie: Claude Giroux. Man, is this even a question? I keep thinking about that Travis Yost tweet where he notes that the Flyers’ power play has been outscored when Giroux is not on the ice, and how, while that feels like equally a comment on the rough state of the Flyers’ power play situation, it’s also a pretty great summary of just how important Giroux has been to this team. I could go on forever, but I’ll spare you that. Giroux for Hart (the other one). Make this happen. Thanks for tuning in.
Steve: You don’t want to automatically give this to the Captain or leading point getter, but why kid ourselves? Claude Giroux is 100% the Flyers MVP. A combination of moving to left wing, playing with Corsi darling Sean Couturier at center, and a clean bill of health have combined to make G’s best year ever. It is incredible that Giroux is succeeding like he is at the age of 30.
Joe: Claude Giroux, who is “regressing”, is no doubt the Flyers MVP in my mind. A rejuvenated Giroux has seemed to spark the Flyers into a playoff berth. He is the Giroux of yesteryear, the Giroux we truly know and you better bet he is back. Moving Giroux to the wing might be one of the best things Dave Hakstol has done in his time in Philadelphia.