The inevitable has finally become reality. Claude Giroux, the longtime captain and heartbeat of the Philadelphia Flyers, has been traded. The 34-year-old was shipped to the Florida Panthers Saturday evening, officially ending his 15-season run with the Flyers.
The Flyers also included Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov and a 2024 fifth-round pick in the deal, and they’ll be retaining 50% of Giroux’s salary ($4,137,500).
In return, the Flyers are acquiring forward Owen Tippett, a first-round pick in 2024 and a third-round pick in 2023.
Tippett, 23, was selected 10th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Through 94 career NHL games, Tippett has logged 14 goals and 33 total points.
The trading of Giroux was expected. He did not travel with the Flyers for their brief visit north of the border to take on the Ottawa Senators Friday night, strongly suggesting the anticipated move was virtually a certitude.
The reigning All-Star Game MVP is in the final year of the eight-year, $66.2 million contract he signed back in 2013, and with the Flyers’ season all but lost, it became clear the likelihood of a Stanley Cup run in Philadelphia was impractical. With Florida, though, Giroux will have a realistic chance at winning a title, which he more than deserves at this stage of his career.
The Panthers are currently the second-place team in the league standings with 90 points on the season. The Panthers have gone 42-14-6 in their 62 games, and with Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Reinhart already on the roster, Giroux will be surrounded by more talent than he has in perhaps his entire career.
“This is a difficult, bittersweet day,” said Flyers CEO Dave Scott. “But we are excited to watch Claude compete in the playoffs for Florida this year, and there is no question that Claude will always be a Flyer.”
As Giroux departs, so too does one of the most thrilling eras of hockey in Flyers history. Giroux, undoubtedly among the greatest players to ever don an orange and black sweater, has been the foundation of the Flyers since he broke onto the scene with his near-point-per-game pace during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. The Hearst, Ontario native is the longest-tenured captain in team history and holds the franchise record for power-play points with 339. Since the 2010-11 season, only three players — Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin — have logged more points than Giroux.
Selected with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Giroux now has exactly 1,000 NHL games — all with the Flyers — under his belt. He logged 291 goals and 609 assists for 900 total points during his tenure in Philadelphia. The only player in Flyers history with more points and assists than Giroux is, of course, the great Bobby Clarke.
“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,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “Claude is one of the best players to ever wear a Flyer uniform.”
Giroux may now be a member of the Panthers, but is it possible he could return to the Flyers at some point?
Giroux will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if he wants to return to Philadelphia, he’ll have the option to do so. However, with Fletcher planning to “aggressively retool” the roster with limited cap space during the offseason, the viability of coordinating a Giroux return seems questionable. Still, much stranger things have happened.
For now, though, it’s best to reflect on the incredible career Giroux has had in Philadelphia. It’s been a heck of a ride, and it will be awfully strange seeing him in a different colored uniform, at least for the rest of this season.
Without question, there will be a whole lot of Flyers fans rooting for the Panthers to win it all this coming June.