By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
We’re starting to see some movement on the Claude Giroux trade market.
It’s no secret that Giroux’s days in Philadelphia are numbered. The trade deadline is less than five weeks away and GM Chuck Fletcher has essentially said the ball is in Giroux’s court if the team is to orchestrate a deal. This is due to Giroux’s no-movement clause, which will need to be waived prior to any deal.
Well, it appears Giroux has brought some destinations to the attention of Fletcher and the Flyers. According to Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater, the Avalanche are Giroux’s preferred destination with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues as acceptable alternatives if a deal cannot be reached with Colorado.
Before you assume that this process is well underway, know that there are conflicting reports here, as Michael Russo of the Athletic tweeted that according to sources close to Giroux and the Flyers, this list of preferred destinations has not happened yet.
That said, there are potential destinations to discuss and the three mentioned all make sense for Giroux. The next area of focus after where is what becomes the return package that the Flyers could get for their most valuable asset at the deadline.
So why Colorado, Minnesota, or St. Louis for Giroux? And what’s a fair value for the Flyers in return? Let’s break it all down.
First, let’s look at the potential destinations.
Colorado makes a ton of sense. The Avalanche sit atop the NHL standings with 72 points and are emerging as the early favorites to win a Stanley Cup. Could a player like Giroux put them over the edge?
That remains to be seen, but the Avalanche are going to actively pursue somebody to bolster the forward group even further. They do have to navigate some cap space issues to make it work with a player in Giroux’s situation, but it’s become clearly obvious that Giroux is on their radar.
Minnesota is quietly a team lurking in the playoff picture. They are a definite playoff team, but also not that far off from the top of the league standings. While they sit in eighth in total points with 63, they actually rank fourth in the NHL in points percentage and have the fewest games played of any team in the top 10.
Finally, there is St. Louis. The Blues rank the lowest in the league among these three potential destinations in total points with 61, 10th place in the league standings. However, they too have games in hand that play into their favor. Another aspect of a possible trade to St. Louis would be a pair of familiar faces for Giroux. Former teammate Brayden Schenn has been with the Blues since the 2017-18 season, and head coach Craig Berube coached Giroux in the Flyers system from the beginning of his career to Berube’s dismissal as head coach at the end of the 2014-15 season.
That’s not to say that is the entire market for Giroux. There are other teams of interest. Elliotte Friedman noted in his 32 Thoughts column that Florida could be a team to watch for Giroux if talks get serious. A team like Carolina could also be in the mix.
So with these destinations in mind, what is a reasonable and fair value in return for Giroux?
Some of that groundwork may have already started with the first deal in the NHL leading up to the deadline. The Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday in exchange for Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman, a 2022 first-round pick (which is top-10 protected), and a 2024 fifth-round pick.
Toffoli turns 30 on April 24, and has two full seasons left on his contract beyond the 2021-22 season. In his 10-year career, Toffoli has 182 goals and 370 points in 614 games.
Compare that to Giroux, who has a few things in his favor and few things against him. Giroux just turned 34 and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, potentially just a rental for an inquiring team. That said, he also has 288 goals and 894 points in 987 games played in his 15-year career.
In the Flyers’ case, this is the big trade chip that can bring back a significant piece in return. That could be in the form of a young player ready to take a step into an NHL role or a first-round pick. But is that what Giroux could net?
Not according to Dater, who appeared on the Flyers High & Wide Podcast on Monday night and stated that he doesn’t see Colorado parting ways with top prospect Alex Newhook or a first-round pick in a Giroux deal.
That should be a dealbreaker to the Flyers. In making a deal with Colorado, Newhook or young right-handed defenseman Justin Barron would need to be in the deal or the Flyers would need to get a first-round pick. Friedman also cited another right-handed defensive prospect from Colorado, Drew Helleson, as a name of interest. From Minnesota, names like Marco Rossi will be popular in rumors, but would the Wild be willing to part ways. In St. Louis, perhaps a name like Robert Thomas or Klim Kostin would appeal to the Flyers if the Blues were willing to include one of the two. Again, a first-round pick in either 2022 or even 2023, when the draft is reported to be more fruitful in talent, would also be an ideal part of a return for Giroux.
Perhaps the belief that Giroux isn’t worth either a top prospect or a first-round pick comes from timing. The deadline is on March 21, still over a month away. It may be too early and teams may not be sweetening the deal on the Flyers’ end just yet without the pressure of the deadline coming up.
By that logic, it doesn’t appear that a deal is imminent, but the wheels are in motion. Giroux will be dealt at or before the deadline. He’s agreed to it. The team will honor his wishes to the best of their ability. It’s simply a matter of when.