It appears as though Claude Giroux has made his decision on whether he will stick with the team or waive his full no-move clause and be traded to a contender. Giroux has listed three teams that he wants to go to, the Colorado Avalanche first and foremost, but he would also be willing to go to the Minnesota Wild or St. Louis Blues (from ‘The Latest on the Claude Giroux, Avalanche Potential Trade Scenario’, Colorado Hockey Now, Feb. 14, 2022).
What’s with the love for the Central Division? Maybe he wants to experience a playoff push in the Western Conference, and those are the most likely contenders that would be willing to add him. All three teams could use a centerman of Giroux’s caliber, and it may decide who comes out of that division. That alone could be the incentive, as no team wants any of the others getting an upper hand on them.
Giroux hasn’t made it easy for general manager Check Fletcher and the Philadelphia Flyers, but it remains to be seen if the teams he’s willing to go to increases his value or lowers it a bit because the options are limited. I think the latter, as at a minimum, the Avalanche and Wild are looking to make a big splash at the deadline for this year’s playoffs, and there may not be a more suitable contender in need of a number one centre.
I will go over possible trade packages for each of the three possible landing spots for Giroux, looking at what players would have to be moved to free up a spot in the lineup and cap space. The Flyers would likely have to retain 30-50 percent of Giroux’s salary or take a bad contract back as well.
Giroux’s most sought-after destination to go this season is the Avalanche, and for good reason. They are on a 19-game point streak (17-0-2) and hold the top spot in the NHL by three points with games in hand. If they manage to land Giroux before the trade deadline, it will likely cost them at least one depth player with potential, a top prospect, and a high pick.
The Avalanche would likely keep the top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog together, so Giroux would be brought in to play on the second line with Nazem Kadri during his career year. The most likely two options to choose between for the Flyers would be either J.T. Compher or Tyson Jost. Compher is more experienced and three years older, but Jost is a former 10th overall pick and has more potential. Both are signed after this season and have played in the bottom-six for the Avalanche this season. If the Flyers are looking to retool, not rebuild, they are most likely looking for players to make an immediate impact unless they plan on flipping a pick to move out a bad contract.
Alex Newhook may be an ask, as he has shown in a much shorter amount of time that he is more impactful than either of the other two. The former 2019 16th overall pick has put up 10 goals and 16 points in 36 games after he transitioned to a full-time NHL role.
As for the prospects, there are a few that should entice the Flyers. The Avalanche have more than enough young talent, and it wouldn’t cripple them too much to use a couple to get a return that will put them over the top. If the Flyers want a defence prospect that is just about as NHL-ready as any defender they have, Justin Barron would be at the top of the list. He is a point-producing defenceman who is a great puck-mover and loves to join the rush. He is currently enjoying success in his first full season in the American Hockey League (AHL), recording 15 points in 30 games.
Injuries have slowed the development of a few Flyers’ prospects like Morgan Frost, Wade Allison, and Tyson Foerster. So, the Flyers are most likely looking for a forward prospect that is close to NHL-ready after being given the time to properly develop. The options on the Avalanche would include Martin Kaut, Dylan Sikura, or even Oskar Olausson.
Kaut is a solid player drafted in the first round of 2018. It is his third consecutive season split between the NHL and the AHL. He is on the cusp of being an NHL-regular, but the Avalanche’s lineup is too deep at the moment. He will be a force on the power play with his passing and shooting ability if he can take the next step.
As for Sikura, he’s dominated everywhere he has played except the NHL. At age 26, time may be running out for him to figure his game out at the highest level, but his numbers again this season show he has nothing left to prove or do in the AHL. With 17 goals and 37 points in 34 games in the AHL, he would be playing in the NHL on a number of other teams right now.
Olausson started the season off well on the Barrie Colts, but since being dealt to the Oshawa Generals, he has struggled to add assists in games, though he is still managing to score at the same pace. A late first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, he will take a couple of years to be ready, but the Flyers still may look at a top prospect like that in a deal. Not every play has to be a dynamic player on the Flyers’ roster next season.
Depending on the class of prospect the Flyers intend on targeting, the draft pick may not be a first-round pick. Giroux is in the final year of his deal, after all, so rentals generally cost less than players with term.
The Wild are a team with available cap space but are in need of the biggest upgrade down the middle. They are currently running with Ryan Hartman, Joel Eriksson Ek, Frederick Gaudreau, and Nico Sturm/Victor Rask down the middle. Both Eriksson Ek and Hartman are solid second-line or even high-end third-line centres, but the team chemistry has elevated their play so that they have been able to make due to this point. The Wild are not ready just yet for Marco Rossi to come in and be a first-line centre, so a trade for a proven veteran who can get the job done is on the agenda.
Despite having the cap space, the Wild will probably be looking to get another deal done as well to add a depth forward. In that case, Rask has been in and out of the lineup and is taking up $4 million in cap space for this season. If the Flyers send Giroux to the Wild, they will be down another centerman since Sean Couturier is out for the season and Kevin Hayes’ status is 50/50 to play again this season. Rask would be able to fill a need, and sending him back in a package would be beneficial for both parties.
Along with Rask, Fletcher should ask for either Conor Dewar or Brandon Duhaime and see if they can be impactful for the Flyers, like how they are with the Wild in a bottom-six role.
Now for the prospects. Matthew Boldy has just made the jump to the NHL but has made a big immediate impact and is proving to be a big piece for the Wild in the future. He’s considered untouchable right now. But for the rest, other than Rossi, prospects like Calen Addison or Carson Lambos on defence or Marat Khusnutdinov are the Flyers’ best bets.
Khusnutdinov is a 19-year-old playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and performing well. He has five goals and 12 points in 32 games and has yet to come over to North America. Once he does, he should make an immediate impact, as he will have spent an ample amount of time playing against men already. Khusnutdinov is a great two-way player that could learn under Couturier while also being very quick and able to win puck battles. He would be the best and most realistic option at forward for the Flyers to target in a return.
On defence, Calen Addison is NHL-ready and could be inserted right into the Flyers’ lineup if acquired. He has 17 points in 23 AHL games and recorded two goals and three points in nine NHL games when he was called up. With a healthy Wild defence, there is no room for him this season, but he’s tracking well and is tough to play against.
Lambos would be an acquisition for the future if the Flyers were to ask for him in the return for Giroux, as defencemen take longer to develop normally (he was a first-round pick in 2021). He is a very mobile player who can walk the line and fake out defenders to create open lanes for himself. He is always a threat from the point to shoot or pass once he has room.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues are the tightest on the cap, and it would be very difficult to even make a trade for a forward. They are pretty solid up front and would have to send back one to two roster players or include a third team with cap space to make a deal work.
If a third team isn’t involved, someone who pops out to me is Brayden Schenn. Could the Flyers be interested in a reunion and bring back a physical top-six player that they once traded away? Schenn makes $6.5 million for six more years, so it may not look the best down the road, but it would solidify a roster spot for a solid player who can play at centre or the wing. Schenn enjoyed some of his best hockey in his final years in Philadelphia. For the Blues, this would remove enough of the cap for the deal to work and Giroux to take over duties on the top line beside Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou while giving the Blues that much-needed cap space to work with in the offseason.
That won’t be enough, even with the years, as Giroux is an upgrade over Schenn, but Schenn has the years remaining. The Flyers would want a sweetener, as even though Schenn has 25 points in 30 games, Giroux would put them over the top and allow them to become real Stanley Cup competitors. Klim Kostin could be another player off the roster that comes in a package to the Flyers. He is a former first-round pick that is now in his first NHL season, progressing slower in a reduced role for now.
As for prospects, if the Flyers want one, Jake Neighbours, the Blues’ 2020 first-round pick, would be of interest and should be NHL-ready even by next season. Neighbours already spent nine games with the Blues, recording one goal and one assist, but they elected to give him one final year in juniors, where he’s averaged 1.63 points per game.
The Blues, of course, have the most talent on their roster that they could and may be willing to send back to the Flyers, but it would also take the most work and working around the cap to pull a trade off.
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Let me know below which combination of players or picks would be the most likely or best for the future of the Flyers. If you are a fan of the Avalanche, Wild, or Blues, who would you give up to get Giroux?
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 NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
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