Yeah, Claude Giroux probably isn’t coming back.
That seemed pretty obvious once he got down to Florida and started putting up points on a nightly basis, and it looks all but certain after an interview with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun went up on Wednesday.
Giroux’s about to enter free agency, wants to win the Stanley Cup, and would like to keep pursuing it with the Panthers if possible.
“It definitely would interest me,” Giroux told LeBrun. “Since the first day I got here, from my teammates to the organization, it was a great experience. Obviously, it helps when you’re winning a lot of hockey games.
“The full experience for me and my family, the organization did an unbelievable job.’’
After 15 years, 1,000 NHL games, and the team he captained for the majority of them completely falling apart, the Flyers dealt Giroux to the Panthers just ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.
The 34-year old, who put up 42 points for a struggling Philly team through 57 games, came down to Sunrise and joined a lineup that was stacked top-to-bottom. Skating alongside established stars Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, plus Carter Verhaeghe in a breakout year, Giroux reached more than half his points total with the Flyers in just 18 regular-season games (three goals and 20 assists for 23 points).
The Panthers had a fast, creative, and high-powered offense, and getting Giroux made them better as they went on to win the Presdients’ Trophy for the NHL’s best regular-season record and entered the playoffs as a Cup favorite.
Florida beat the Washington Capitals in the first round but had trouble doing so, then hit a wall in the second when the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning sent them home in a four-game sweep.
The Panthers are up against the salary cap and have a number of expiring contracts to address this summer, Giroux’s included, but LeBrun cited sources that GM Bill Zito would like to keep him in Florida for next season. How possible that is though is still up in the air.
“Yeah. I came to Florida to win a Cup,” Giroux said. “Obviously we weren’t able to do that. But at the same time, I think we learned a lot from the Washington series and also the Tampa series. We’ll see how the next month goes but excited to see what’s going to happen here.”
Giroux told LeBrun that he is taking a few weeks off to decompress, but that his and agent Pat Brisson’s first priority is to see if a deal with Florida can be reached, otherwise he’ll test the free-agent waters.
The Flyers were barely mentioned during the conversation.
The two big factors on where Giroux ultimately ends up next are going to be the fit for his family and his chances of winning, and with where the Flyers are at right now, they really can’t do much for him with the latter, or financially.
A return to Philly was always possible following what became a highly emotional goodbye, but the chances of that happening have only gotten slimmer.
I wouldn’t hold your breath.
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