The Florida Panthers acquired forwards Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, and German Rubtsov and a fifth-round draft pick in 2024 from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Owen Tippett, a first-round draft pick in 2024, and a third-round draft pick in 2023. The Flyers will retain half of Giroux’s remaining salary in 2021-22, the final year of his contract.
Speculation surrounding Giroux dominated the conversation leading up to the trade deadline, and the Flyers icon has finally moved on after playing 1000 games over the past 14 years in orange and black.
Panthers Load Up with Giroux
The Panthers sit atop the Eastern Conference in 2021-22. They own the league’s best offense with 4.06 goals per game. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have reached a point of recognition as two players in the top tier of the NHL. Florida hasn’t made it back to the Stanley Cup Final since their miracle playoff run in 1996, and they look like they’re seizing their opportunity in contention with the addition of Ben Chiarot and the blockbuster for Giroux.
Giroux finished with 18 goals and 24 assists in 57 games with the Flyers this season. He provides Florida with a capable top-six forward even at age 34. His 60.9 win percentage in the faceoff circle is third-best in the NHL this season. He still provides value on the power play, especially as a skilled playmaker on a team full of prolific scorers. The surplus of talent around him will alleviate the nearly constant pressure the Flyers placed on him to carry the team over the past decade.
Bunnaman has split time between the Flyers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the past three seasons. He has played a fourth-line role for the majority of his 54 NHL games. He will turn 24 in April, and his contract runs through the 2022-23 season with a modest $750K average annual value. The Flyers selected Rubtsov with the 22nd overall pick in 2016. He struggled to find footing in the organization over the past six years, and he has only played four career NHL games.
Flyers Lose Franchise Icon
Giroux is second in Flyers history in points, games played, and assists trailing only the legendary Bobby Clarke. He has played on teams that have won six total playoff series and recorded 73 postseason points, including an overtime winner in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. He has finished fourth or higher in Hart Trophy voting three times during his career. He played his 1000th and final game with the Flyers on Thursday night.
The Flyers struggled to surround Giroux with legitimate talent during the majority of his tenure as captain of the team, and they face uncertainty without him leading the way. They have limped through a disastrous season in 2021-22, and they are in position to miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Tippett is the first piece of a potential overhaul in Philadelphia. The 23-year-old impending restricted free agent (RFA) played 42 games with the Panthers in 2021-22 and record six goals and eight assists. He was sent to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL in February because of inconsistent play. The Panthers selected him 10th overall in 2017, the same draft that brought the Flyers Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost, and Isaac Ratcliffe.