The Florida Panthers are one of the best teams in hockey currently. They sit atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 35-11-5 with 75 points through 51 games. This is in large part due to their offensive power that ranks first in the league in goals per game with 4.12. In addition, their star forward in Jonathan Huberdeau currently leads the league in points with 72. Even though their offense is strong, rumor has it that the Panthers might be looking into Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. While he does bring leadership and skill with him wherever he goes, Florida should rethink pursuing him and look in a different direction.
The Panthers Need Defensive Pieces
When it comes to big deadline moves, the Panthers need to acquire someone on the blue line. They currently rank 18th in the league in goals allowed per game and don’t really have a set player at their third defensive pairing. While the luxury of an abundance of top forwards sounds very appealing, it seems unnecessary with the talent they possess currently.
In addition, general manager Bill Zito has looked in that direction already by showing interest in Jakob Chychrun and Ben Chiarot. With that in mind, it seems like this deal could be shot down before it even began.
Florida’s Cap Space Can’t Handle His Cap Hit
The Panthers are in a tough spot cap space wise. They currently only have a little more than $476,000 in total cap room. In addition, they’re using the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) cap space of Markus Nutivaara’s contract and that only shored up an extra $2.7 million. As of now, Giroux carries a massive cap hit of $8.275 million.
Granted, it is the final year of the current deal. However, despite the measures taken to find more money for the Panthers without sacrificing a roster player, it won’t be enough to afford the Philadelphia captain. In addition, assuming the trade occurs, he would want a similar cap hit to stay in South Florida. Furthermore, they have bigger fish to fry as two top players in Huberdeau and Noel Acciari are due for deals in the next couple of seasons. Additionally, Florida would still be taking combined dead cap hits of over $6 million in the contracts of goaltender Scott Darling and defenseman Keith Yandle.
He Isn’t Getting Any Younger and Could See Florida as a Retirement Option
As of now, the Flyers center is currently 34 years of age. While he is having a decent season so far, it is unknown how much he has left in the tank. If Florida decided to pull the trigger on a trade with Giroux, he could want to extend his stay due to the fact that Florida has no state income tax. As a result, he could look to the South Florida area as a potential retirement spot.
For years, players on the very back end of their careers would look to go to the Panthers to finish up near the beach as a place for life after hockey, such as Ed Belfour and Jaromir Jagr. As of recent, the Panthers are trying to get rid of that culture and get back to winning ways.
The Panthers Do Not Need Giroux
Again, it would be pretty cool to see Giroux don a Panthers uniform and see him skate with the likes of Aleksander Barkov. But it is an unnecessary move to make with the amount of talented forwards they currently possess. While it may seem like a bad idea, it shows that Zito is looking to make the team a true playoff contender despite them being nearly a lock for the postseason this year. However, Giroux has stated that he would prefer to go to either the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, or Minnesota Wild. As a result, this deal may be axed before it was even a thought process. But, it shows that the front office is willing to make the moves to make this team finally be an elite squad, a term that the team has lacked for many years.