(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers captain since 2013 and the best player on this year's trade block, has most likely played his final game in a Flyers sweater. On Thursday, March 17th, Giroux suited up for the Flyers in a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Unless you're a hockey fan living under a rock, you know that the Flyers are in the league's basement. Just two seasons after being deemed a top Stanley Cup contender, it seems as if Philadelphia is destined to blow it up and get a rebuild started.
The biggest storyline surrounding the Flyers right now is the fate of Claude Giroux's career in Philadelphia. Thursday's contest against Nashville was Giroux's 1,000th NHL game, and it was reported that Giroux had requested to play his 1,000th game as a Philadelphia Flyer. Less than 24-hours later, it was announced that Giroux would not be traveling with the team to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Friday night, all but finalizing his career in Philadelphia for now.
Giroux was selected 22nd overall in the 2006 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, and spent the last fifteen seasons of his illustrious career in Philly, a career that includes three gold medals, seven All-Star appearances, and one Eastern Conference Championship.
Where will Claude Giroux end up?
As you can probably deduce, Giroux is drawing heavy interest from a plethora of contenders in both the Eastern and Western Conference. But where is he most likely and least likely to end up? Let's assess the options.
Right off the bat, we'll talk about who the heavy favorites to land Giroux are. It has been reported many times over the last week or so that the Florida Panthers are being aggressive in their pursuit to trade for Claude Giroux. While Giroux won't come cheap, and will be bringing an $8.2 million AAV with him where ever he goes, the Panthers are on a collision course with winning the Eastern Conference this year. Easily the most stacked team in the East, Florida is looking to land one more big piece in order to put them over the edge and make a run at the Stanley Cup. Florida seems to believe that Giroux is the piece that they are looking for.
There have been some unconfirmed reports circulating claiming that the Colorado Avalanche offered defensive prospect, Justin Barron, and their 2023 first-round pick for Giroux, but it is unclear what the Flyers have done with Colorado's offer. The Avalanche are already widely considered to be the best team in the NHL. With the addition of Giroux, the Avs would be next to unstoppable. If you're a fan of any other playoff team this year, pray that this doesn't happen.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are another team that were believed to be big players in the Claude Giroux sweepstakes, but a recent report surfaced that Giroux shut down the idea of being traded to the Rangers. After all, Giroux spent the last fifteen years of his career battling it out against Philly's bitter division rivals, so why would he want to betray his fans by going to New York and possibly helping them win a Stanley Cup? Rangers aside, it's unlikely that Giroux is traded within the Metropolitan Division.
The Boston Bruins have reportedly already offered the Flyers a package for Giroux, but with Giroux's no-movement clause giving him the final say in which team he ends up on, it appears as if he won't winding up in a Bruins sweater. While the Rangers never made an official offer for Giroux before he said he wouldn't play for them, the Bruins did. It's unclear what the Bruins offered Philly for their captain, but a rumor surfaced that Giroux nixed the trade offer before it could even get off the table.
So, it looks like as of now, the two teams that are still in the running for Claude Giroux are the Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche, the two best teams in the league... surprise surprise. But, as we sports fans know, it's never over until it's over. A dark-horse team could swoop in at the final minute of the final hour and offer Philly a deal that they can't refuse.
The NHL trade deadline is this Monday, March 21st at 3 PM ET. Personally, I expect Giroux to be traded before the end of the weekend.