Through 35 games for the Philadelphia Flyers, things have not gone according to plan. They are two games under .500 and sit five points back of the second wild-card spot with four more games played than the Boston Bruins. There is still time to make a comeback, but not a lot to start moving in the right direction.
This has us looking at who may be the top rental of this season’s trade deadline, Claude Giroux. He’s played 975 regular-season games without a Stanley Cup, so the Flyers should give him the opportunity this season to chase that and allow them to bring assets back. He’s set to become a free agent this summer anyways, so the Flyers and Giroux can always talk numbers before he’s traded or in the offseason to bring him back.
Elliotte Friedman joined Jeff Marek on The Jeff Marek Show and discussed the chances of Giroux getting traded before the trade deadline. He said, “I would bet that Claude Giroux gets traded. I just think they have to figure out between him and them, where he’s gonna go.”
Giroux currently has a no-move clause, so a trade would have to go through him. He turns 34 in three days, so he’s not getting any younger, and not many more opportunities to chase a Cup will come around. I believe he will agree to go to a contender and then likely make a return to Philadelphia in free agency. This should give him another shot and put the Flyers in a better position to retool once again before next season.
Here are three contenders I think Giroux could be heading to before the trade deadline.
The Minnesota Wild lack a true number one centre, and their depth is questionable. That could inevitably be their downfall come playoffs against Western Conference teams that are well equipped down the middle. Bringing in a player like Giroux can really stabilize that and give them another offensive weapon, along with a veteran who has gotten Selke Trophy votes throughout the years.
Joel Eriksson Ek is very good, but if he gets support down the middle, or even a situation where Giroux can play the wing in the top-six and interchange, then matchups would be a lot better. I say that due to the performance Ryan Hartman has put on this season, but he could also slide down to a third-line centre role and outmatch the opponents’ third lines.
Giroux would bring his leadership and experience to an already good group of veterans, and along with that, his 85 playoff games and a Cup Final appearance. The defence in Minnesota is solid, and they will more than likely look to add a forward to the mix before the deadline.
Of course, they will have to move some money around, but I’m sure the Flyers would be willing to retain money to get assets back. I think Giroux will cost at least a first-round pick and probably a prospect on top of that. It’s a good thing Minnesota has held on to all of their draft picks.
A big hole left in the offseason that the Boston Bruins did not address was their second-line centre position. When David Krejci left, instead of replacing him, they decided that Charlie Coyle could move up and fill that void. Coyle isn’t a bad centreman, but he’d be much better suited in the third hole like last season.
This is where acquiring Giroux will be crucial. The high-end centre market is pretty thin this season, so teams will be fighting over fewer players than are available. The Bruins are more than covered in net with the return of Tuukka Rask, so the focus turns to defence and centre, where they need to address both. The question is who becomes available for what price. The core of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Rask isn’t getting any younger, so all in would be the best, even if it’s just for a rental like Giroux could change the whole complexion of your team.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are going to make a splash before the trade deadline; it’s just a matter of how big (“Rangers May Look to Add Forward On Expiring Deal Ahead, NHL Trade Talk, Nov. 25, 2021). They have a ton of cap space to work with and are tied atop the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes. In a tough division, they have proven to be legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup this season and should take full advantage of the picks and prospects they have available to dangle as trade bait.
The Rangers have two great centremen, Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome, but Strome can also play the wing. The advantage of acquiring Giroux is that he can also play the wing. Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin are pretty much set as the left wingers in the top-six, so that means Strome can slide over to the right wing, and Giroux come in and centre one of the lines.
The Rangers could take some of the pressure off of their young forwards and add a veteran who is also capable of being defensively responsible. The time to buy big on rentals is now, as they won’t have to pay that extra little bit for the Flyers to retain salary.
All three teams have a need to bolster their top-six forward group before the trade deadline, as they all seem like contenders. It doesn’t matter how they get in, only that they do, and Giroux can help with the battle ahead.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.