Flyers Failed to Get Adequate Return in Giroux Trade

The Claude Giroux saga finally comes to an end…for now. The Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers finally pulled off one of the biggest trades expected at the 2022 trade deadline. The Flyers dealt Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, prospect German Rubtsov, and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for Owen Tippett, a 2024 or 2025 first-round pick, and a 2023 third-round pick. The Flyers retained 50 percent of Giroux’s cap hit.

This deal looks great for the Panthers, as they got a couple of young players thrown in the deal while moving out Tippett who had found it hard to stay in the lineup regularly. They gave up just one first-round pick pretty far in the future.

From the Flyers’ perspective, they could’ve gotten a better deal but had to respect Giroux’s wishes. Frank Seravalli reported that Giroux was only willing to accept a trade to the Panthers. This put the Flyers at a disadvantage to either make a deal with the Panthers or not make one at all. Emily Caplan reported that the Panthers’ package was aggressive, but not as aggressive compared to the Colorado Avalanche or Boston Bruins. Leaks of what could have been may come out in the future, but for now we are left to wonder.

If the Flyers’ hands were tied and Florida didn’t have the information that they were the only destination, there would have seen a much better return. As it stands, other teams have gotten better returns for their rental players and players they have sold.

What the Flyers Lost

The Flyers lost the longest-tenured captain in their history, but it seemed inevitable since they once again were set to miss the playoffs. It will be the first time the team misses in back-to-back seasons since 1992-93 and 1993-94. Giroux has provided the Flyers with the second-most games in franchise history and is the second player to reach 1000 games for the franchise, doing so on Thursday. He also ranks eighth in goals (291), second in assists (609) and points (900), and first in power-play points (339) in franchise history.

This season Giroux has the fourth-best faceoff percentage in the league at 60.89 percent and is second on the Flyers behind Cam Atkinson with 18 goals and 42 points. It’s clear Giroux isn’t the over a point per game player he once was, but he can still provide a great deal of offence that will be missed on the Flyers. If they don’t bring him back next season, it frees up over $8 million in cap space to work with.

Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Looking at the young players, Bunnaman is a former Flyers fourth-round pick in 2016 who has played in 54 NHL games over the course of three seasons. He could never find his stride offensively, scoring just one goal and three points, but he did add a level of physicality. Playing in 15 games this season, he went pointless and has spent most of the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL). There probably wasn’t much opportunity left for Bunnaman in Philadelphia after he failed to muster up much traction in the NHL over three seasons and has been passed over by many other prospects.

The other player sent over to the Panthers was another former Flyers’ draft pick from the 2016 NHL Draft. This time it was their first-round selected (22nd overall) Rubtsov. Over the past year, his rank in the organization had fallen. Originally seen as a top-15 prospect in the organization, he has fallen due to a poor offensive season when on loan to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) last season. They later found out he had been playing with a dislocated wrist and was barely able to grip his stick. It seems like a waste of a first-round pick when a player drafted over five years ago has only suited up for four NHL games. When healthy, he may be able to transfer some of his talents to be a full-time NHLer, but time is running short.

Related: Which Flyers Players Should Be Moved Before the 2022 Trade Deadline

Overall, the Flyers lost their captain whose future with the organization was in question after this year. They have now lost three players drafted from 2016 in the past year, including Bunnaman, Rubtsov, and Carsen Twarynski. They still have Carter Hart, Wade Allison, and Tanner Laczynski.

What the Flyers Gained

The Flyers got a player back that they were hoping to, a young and talented NHL-ready player to help turn the team around right away. Tippett couldn’t stay in the stacked Panthers lineup but should get his shot immediately with the Flyers. If not, they would be wasting valuable time it will take for him to get adjusted to the system and players around him. If done right, they could have him showing immediate signs of progress and be an impactful piece for next year and the future.

Tippett was a dominant player in junior, but his complete skill-set has yet to transfer over. Drafted 10th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, an opportunity and work on his defensive game and consistency could go a long way in allowing him to really break out in the NHL. He has the size and could be encouraged to use it more to his advantage. There is a lot of upside here and the Flyers hope it can turn out good.

Owen Tippett Florida Panthers
Owen Tippett, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The other major piece in the return is the first-round selection down the line from the Panthers. It will be a 2024 first-round pick unless it turns out to be a top-10 pick, then it is transferred to a 2025 first-round pick. Though it doesn’t really help the Flyers right now, it could be a blessing in disguise seeing as COVID messed up minor league seasons and the scouting reports may not be the best. With things back to normal, the Flyers will have ample time to properly scout and get a good opportunity at an impactful player in the future.

Since the Panthers had already sent their next two first-round picks away, 2024 was the closest they had. The 2023 third-round pick comes a bit sooner, but the player still won’t be impactful for a number of years.

Comparing the Package the Flyers Received to Other Sellers

There have been six deals I would consider significant, four of which were for rental players. Top teams like the Avalanche, Panthers, Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Calgary Flames have all made these moves. Of the four players considered rentals, three of them are defencemen. One is a lower-tier forward. Giroux is the biggest name expected to be moved at this deadline, so let’s see how his return matches up to that of the other players who have changed teams.

Josh Manson got the return of prospect Drew Helleson and a 2023 second-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks. Helleson is a solid defensive prospect from the Avalanche.

The Ducks also got what can be considered the best return for a rental in Hampus Lindholm that got a 2022 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, Urho Vaakanainen, and John Moore from the Bruins. The picks are all high and Vaakanainen is a good young defender who should slot in the lineup this year if he returns from injury. Moore was just to make the cap work in the deal. The first-round pick this year could even end up being in the early 20s since the division the Bruins are in is so competitive.

Hampus Lindholm Anaheim Ducks
Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins are close to signing Lindholm, but without that in play immediately, it is a huge haul for a rental defenceman. Comparing it to what the Flyers got back for Giroux, the first-round pick is more immediate and will be able to help the team two years earlier. Tippett projects to be better than Vaakanainen and was a higher pick, but thus far they are at similar stages, both ready for full-time roles in the NHL. Now for the rest of the deal, the Flyers gave up two prospects and got back a third-rounder while the Ducks got two second-round picks and didn’t have to give up a prospect.

The Panthers also got Ben Chiarot just three days prior that cost them their first-round pick in 2023, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and prospect Ty Smilanic. Considering the difference between Chiarot and Giroux, it didn’t cost a whole lot more to acquire Chirarot.

As for the only rental forward, Calle Jarnkrok was the second forward the Flames acquired, sending a 2022 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 seventh-round pick back to the Seattle Kraken. This too was a pretty big haul for a bottom-six rental forward.

The other two forwards each have two years remaining on their contracts, but the return for Brandon Hagel is something special. The Blackhawks got two first-round picks and two solid prospects, but it is because of the term, cap hit, age, production, and ceiling of Hagel right now. Tyler Toffoli didn’t get nearly as good of a return for the Montreal Canadiens. I would say Giroux’s return sits right in the middle.

All in all, the Flyers’ hands were tied. The Panthers had the advantage in the trade. Management did what they could and got a return for Giroux instead of letting him walk for nothing in free agency. It depends on what the Flyers can do with what they have to build for the future.

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