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Who Will Win the Giroux Sweepstakes?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s no secret that Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is among the most anticipated trade pieces for the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. He has a no-movement clause, an $8.275 million cap hit, and is a pending UFA. With that being, said the Flyers’ options are limited in what is a realistic return for their longtime captain.

It has been rumored that the 34 year-old Giroux would accept a trade to any three of the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, or Minnesota Wild. Several other teams have kicked the tires on “G,” including the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, and even the New York Rangers. No matter where he goes, the 15-year veteran will make an impact with his new team after the March 21 deadline. It’s time to take a look at which teams have a legitimate chance to make a push for Giroux, and what they have to offer.

Every year at the deadline, teams get more and more desperate once 3 p.m. approaches. As time is ticking, those teams offer a larger package for specific assets they need for their push to compete for Lord Stanley. This trade for Giroux could be a massive haul, or just as likely it could be rather underwhelming similar to the Wayne Simmonds trade during the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline to the Nashville Predators for Ryan Hartman and a conditional fourth-round pick. GM Chuck Fletcher attempted to swing for the fences and try to acquire a first-round pick for a strong winger in Simmonds. He ended up with a top-9 young winger in Hartman and a mid-round pick.

Colorado (Current Available Cap Space: $3.241M)

The Avalanche have been rumored to make a strong push for Giroux for the past two months, and realistically have among the best chances to win as the NHL's top team in the standings.  Although they may have the best chance to win, doesn’t mean they have the best assets to offer to Philadelphia. Alex Newhook, and Bowen Byram are untouchables in this trade. Despite Byram dealing with concussions, it would take a massive blockbuster trade to the Avalanche to get him out of there. Newhook is even more untouchable than Byram unless a team is offering a player in the same realm as an Elias Pettersson type.

The likes of Tyson Jost, JT Compher, Justin Barron, Drew Helleson, and more have all appeared in hypothetical packages for Giroux. One of the most difficult factors to worry about is Giroux’s $8 million cap hit. Although, the Flyers could eat a sizable percentage of the salary, they would still need to bring in a contract to make it work. A majority of analysts, and fans aren’t big on Jost, who is a former 10th overall pick in 2016. He certainly has a strong game defensively, however his offensive game has yet to be seen. The reason for this most likely is who he’s been playing with. Certainly, no disrespect to former Flyer Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Darren Helm, but they do not necessarily scream out being an offensive threat especially on the fourth line. Jost certainly could use a change of scenery to get his offensive game going.

The only argument to finding his secret recipe to scoring is why go to a different team than Colorado? They appear to be the team to beat this year, and scoring is a huge reason why. After several weeks, Colorado’s name seems to be getting more quiet despite their scouts watching the Flyers and vice versa.

Of course, things have now changed with names like Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog going down with significant injuries that will last at least one month. Now there is some flexibility in making the cap work, but the cost would likely still be high for the Flyers to simply part ways with Giroux and eat salary. The names above don't change, but the desperation might. 

St. Louis (Current Available Cap Space: $113,333)

According to Elliotte Friedman’s 32 Thoughts, “several sources indicated not to count out St. Louis’s interest when it comes to Claude Giroux, as we’ve mostly been mentioning Colorado and Florida.” They have the most assets to offer including a 2022 first-round pick. Despite not having much room to work with for cap purposes, St. Louis should not be overlooked as a contender for Giroux. Giroux had one of his best years under current Blues head coach Craig Berube, who just happened to recently receive a nice three-year extension to remain with the Blues.

In 2013-14, Berube took over for Peter Laviolette, who got fired only three games into the season. That year, Giroux scored 28 goals and had 86 points in 82 games, one of his best goal-scoring seasons in his career. It really depends on what the Flyers need right now. For once, it doesn’t seem like they need goaltending thanks to Carter Hart, and their unusually deep goalie prospect pool. If it’s offense they need help with, look for players like Jake Neighbours, Ivan Barbashev, or Robert Thomas to be the important pieces in a trade for Giroux.

Minnesota (Current Available Cap Space: $10.432M)

With the most cap space, the Wild will have one of the best chances to make Giroux’s $8 million cap hit fit into their salary. Although very unlikely, players like Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson-Ek, or even Kevin Fiala are assets young enough and proven to make an impact for Philadelphia.

As previously stated, it is unlikely the Wild will part ways with any of these players mentioned unless the perfect deal comes to them. Each of these three play an important role in the organization, and will do so for many years to come. Realistically though, a young defenseman like Calen Addison could be a possibility for Philadelphia if Minnesota is in fact one of the three teams Giroux would accept a trade.

Florida (Current Available Cap Space: $2.92M)

The name that keeps getting thrown around with a Flyers-Panthers trade is Owen Tippett. The former 10th-overall pick in the infamous 2017 draft class has been up and down with the Panthers. He hasn’t shown much, if anything, to prove to be worth a trade for. In 2020-21 he had seven goals and 11 assists, while this year collecting just six goals and eight assists in 42 games played.

However, in the AHL, he has shown much better efforts. Last year in 46 games played with Springfield, Tippett scored 19 goals and 21 assists, compared to his current season showing in Charlotte with six goals and 18 points. Besides Tippett, another name that has been tossed around is Grigori Denisenko, a young winger worth a look. For Florida to make a legitimate offer, it would be much larger than what Colorado or St. Louis has to offer because they have the least amount of assets they would most likely be willing to part ways with.

The one factor these teams all have in common, outside of Minnesota, is that they have little to almost no cap space to work with unless a deal is made with some creativity.

Prediction

Surprise! The Avalanche will not end up being the team who acquires Giroux. In fact, it will be the Blues who will come out on top as the team to acquire Giroux at the deadline. Players like Neighbours, Barbashev, Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Klim Kostin, will be the key acquisition to acquire Giroux. The trade will come right down to the wire at the deadline, maybe even not being announced until after the deadline expires.

As a reminder, as long as the trade is submitted to the league before the deadline, many trades can still surface and be reported and announced in the moments following the deadline. Fantasy will become reality after Giroux plays his 1,000th game in the NHL and as a member of the Orange and Black. After that? Who knows where Giroux could end up? All it takes is Giroux to accept a deal to a team he is willing to play for, and that team to offer a package that is worth it for the Flyers. That's all it takes for Giroux to move on from the only team he's ever known.

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