The Minnesota Wild will be buyers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. They have been one of the best teams in the league since opening day and continue to prove to general manager Bill Guerin that this group can make some noise in the playoffs and should be rewarded with some extra help at the deadline.
The question is, how does Guerin upgrade his team? What additions should be made, and who should remain? Throughout the season, rumors have circulated that the Wild would add a center. Joel Eriksson Ek has been excellent this season, but there is a slight drop-off after him on the roster. Luckily, Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux might be on the move at the deadline, and he would be a great fit in Minnesota’s lineup.
Giroux has played center for most of his career. He has a strong two-way game and has been reliable in the circle. He has a career face-off winning percentage of 55.7% and has been even more dominant this season at 60.7%.
The Wild would likely want Giroux to center one of their top lines, possibly between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello or Kevin Fiala and Matthew Boldy. However, if there is a situation where Giroux would be more useful on the wing – due to injuries or absences – he has experience playing there as well; he’s played both left and right-wing and can play anywhere in the forward group.
Head coach Dean Evason would love Giroux’s flexibility, and it’s rare for players of his caliber to play all three forward positions at a high level.
Giroux Can Still Produce
The Flyers have not been good this season, and they have heard the criticisms. However, there have been bright spots as well, and Giroux is undoubtedly one of them. In 42 games this season, he has 15 goals and 20 assists. He trails only Cam Atkinson (36) for the team lead, and the next closest is Travis Konecny with 25 points.
Giroux has long been an elite offensive player in the NHL, and many consider him one of the most underrated stars of the past decade. He recorded 102 points in the 2017-18 season and followed it up with an 85-point campaign in the 2018-19 season.
Since then, he has dropped well below a point-per-game average, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t effective offensively. This season, he is on pace for somewhere between 60-70 points, and that’s on a team that’s fifth-last in the league in goals scored with 113.
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On a team like Minnesota – ranked fourth in goals scored with 161 – and possibly playing with Kaprizov, Giroux could easily return to a point-per-game pace or very close to it. At just 34 years old, he is proving to the league that he still has a lot of offense left in the tank.
What’s most attractive about Giroux’s game is that his style is built for the playoffs. He isn’t afraid to be physical, get involved in the rough stuff after the whistle, and maybe most importantly, get under the skin of the opposing team’s best players. Back when the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins met regularly in the playoffs, he would constantly be matched up against Sidney Crosby, with the sole purpose of trying to get the best player in the world off his game.
The Wild already have players like Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno who play a similar style, but no team will ever complain about having too many playoff performers. They know how to grind out games in series after series, both physically and mentally. Giroux would be an excellent, playoff-proven addition to the lineup as they push for a Stanley Cup.
Overall, it’s hard to argue that Giroux wouldn’t look incredible in the State of Hockey. He’s still an extremely influential player on an expiring contract and has the versatility to play anywhere in the Wild’s forward group. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has made it clear that his captain will have a lot of say in if and where he is traded. However, as they sink to the bottom of the league standings, it seems likely Giroux might be intrigued by the possibility of joining a contender.
There will be no shortage of team’s interested in his services. But if Giroux sees the Wild’s potential and understands that he would have a real opportunity in the lineup, it could be a perfect fit.