The Philadelphia Flyers say it is up to Claude Giroux if he wants to be traded. The Toronto Maple Leafs must do whatever it takes to get the seven-time NHL All-Star. The Flyers are in the midst of a franchise-worst 13 game losing streak. It’s so bad they sent the suits to address the media and apologize to fans.
The Flyers’ brass used the exposure to ramp up the bidding war for their captain, and Toronto may have the pieces to pull it off.
I don’t think I need to spend too much time selling readers on Giroux. He’s been an elite player for the last decade, racking up 892 points in 983 games; even this season, at 34-years-old, he has 34 points in 40 games. In addition, he has led the Flyers since being named the 19th captain in franchise history back in 2013. Giroux is the longest-tenured and the best player on the team, and any club would welcome him with open arms.
Giroux Will be a Costly Rental
So, how does Toronto make this happen? The Flyers will have multiple offers, including current NHLers, prospects and draft picks. But the Flyers’ GM Chuck Fletcher, with his boss, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott next to him, gave some clues to what he is looking to acquire. Fletcher refused to say the franchise is rebuilding but used the term retooling. One look at the roster explains why. There is a lot of talent there, and the team has been plagued with injuries. So it’s unlikely they are looking for picks, and the prospects they would be interested in would have to be NHL ready.
Dubas has said he would trade top-end prospects. Nick Robertson, Rodion Amirov and maybe even Topi Niemela could start the conversation with Philadelphia. Next, Toronto would have to clear some salary cap space, which can get complex. Sure, there will be familiar names of Justin Holl and Nick Ritchie thrown around. But don’t fool yourself; the Flyers will get better players from other teams. That said, if the deal is right, it may just be enough to clear the books and make it work.
Alex Kerfoot, who is having a career year in Toronto, would also be in the mix. His position on the Leafs’ lineup would be filled with Giroux. The Flyers would be getting a player that still has term on his contract and a relatively cheap cap hit of just $3.5 million. Add on picks if needed, and Toronto could have enough to make it work.
So if the teams can come to terms, there is one more challenge – Giroux’s no-movement clause. The Flyers stated it is up to their captain to be traded. Let’s assume he does; the pending free agent could re-sign with the Flyers in a few months if the two sides could agree to terms. Giroux is from Ontario but this is not another hometown Maple Leafs story. He is from Hearst, Ontario, more than 900 kilometres away from Toronto. It’s a small-town west of Timmins, the hometown of Shania Twain. Like Twain, Giroux grew up cheering for the Montreal Canadiens.
However, his beloved childhood team is nowhere close to winning a Stanley Cup. If Giroux left the City of Brotherly Love, it would have to be a serious Stanley Cup contender. Drop your 1967 comments below, but Toronto is once again a top team in the NHL that could take a run at hockey’s holy grail. Would that be enough to lure him, or is a team from the sunshine state more appealing?
Other Flyers Available
Toronto could do a one-stop-shop in Philadelphia. Fletcher said everything is on the table, and he has a few players on expiring deals that could make great rentals in Toronto. The best of the bunch is Rasmus Ristolainen. He was a thorn in the side of the Maple Leafs for years as a top d-man for the Buffalo Sabres. With a questionable blue line in Toronto, Ristolainen would solidify it quickly. He is a right-handed shot, first pairing defenceman who would slot in nicely beside Jake Muzzin.
The NHL’s newly crowned iron man, Keith Yandle is available. The 35-year-old has now played in 965 consecutive NHL games, eclipsing the previous mark set by Doug Jarvis in 1987. Justin Braun is also on an expiring contract, and the right-handed shot would add some valuable depth.
Giroux would join his former teammate, Wayne Simmonds and fellow EA NHL cover athlete Auston Matthews in Toronto. He is a leader, which Dubas has always looked for, and it’s safe to assume he is highly motivated to win a Cup as his career is starting to wind down. Toronto should get this deal done sooner than later, as Fletcher’s phone is likely blowing up with offers that are only getting better with each passing day.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.