As Claude Giroux gears up for the 14th season of his NHL career, and tenth as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, he could be walking into an uncertain future. Giroux signed his current contract in July of 2013 and it kicked in during the 2014-15 season. It paid him $8.275 million a year for eight years. Now as Giroux is staring down his 34th birthday he’ll be sitting down for the third contract negotiation of his career next offseason and the big question is what that deal will end up looking like.
Giroux has given some mixed signals over the last few seasons in terms of his on-ice production. He managed to put up 21 goals and 53 points in 69 games of the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, though he felt noticeably lacking throughout the season. He bounced back during the 2020-21 season with 16 goals and 43 points in 54 games, and while the point pace was similar, the dominant edge returned to his game and there were more than a few occasions where he secured a win by himself.
All things considered, the point totals really haven’t dipped too far yet, but the effort level on a night-to-night basis has, though that’s not necessarily a knock on Giroux, it’s to be expected from a player closing on on the 1,000th game of his career.
During the 2021 campaign he was shifted to third line center as the season progressed, a role he may have to reprise as he continues to age. A shift to a defense-first forward and limited five-on-five minutes and deployed hard on the powerplay should keep him fresh to extend the longevity of his career.
So where do the Flyers start in negotiations? Well it all depends on how cooperative Giroux wants to be. He’ll be a 34-year-old on the back nine of his career, but he’s still a key piece on the Philadelphia Flyers. Not only that, but the contract situation brewing within the Flyers isn’t pretty. Both Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee will also need extensions next summer, not to mention the expiring contracts of seven forwards and at least four defenseman. Couturier could be looking to finally cash in after being on one of the best value contracts in the league for the past five seasons, and if Farabee continues his meteoric rise, he won’t come cheap either.
Will Giroux take a home town discount to help the Flyers navigate the salary cap? Does he have a certain number in mind and the Flyers can give him an extra year of two to hit his asking price but keep the average annual value down, a technique that we’ve seen deployed quite a bit around the league lately as teams try and circumvent the flat-cap era? Or does he only sign for a year or two as a potential “opt-out” if the Flyers are still stuck in mediocrity so he can seek a Stanley Cup elsewhere before the end of his career?
It all depends on what drives him more, his loyalty to Philly or finally winning a Cup.
Right now, it’s fair to assume his next contract could be anywhere from two to four years. But it’s the cap hit that’s going to be the most interesting part. He will obviously come cheaper than his current $8.25 million cap hit, but just how much cheaper will be the major question. He could still reasonably seek a number in the 5-6 million range, but if he wanted to help the Flyers remain cap compliant, he would have to settle for a number closer to the 3.5-4.5 range.
A three-year, $13.5 million ($4.5 aav) sounds reasonable. It gives the Flyers a bit of breathing room, keeps Claude Giroux in town for the rest of his productive career, but also clocks in cheap enough that the Flyers could ship him out of town if they never reach Cup contender status. Maybe something like four years, $14 million ($3.5 aav) as a way to get him maximum money but a lower average annual value. It’s a deal potentially neither the Flyers nor Giroux would go for based on the length, but again, it all depends on what route Giroux ends up taking, playing for one team or winning the big one.
Claude Giroux is no doubt one of the greatest Flyers of all time. He’s currently chasing down multiple records atop the Flyers all-time list, and provided his play doesn’t fall off a significant cliff for the next few seasons will snag first in quite a few categories. Hopefully the Flyers’ on-ice play gives them a chance to be competitive, not only this season, but for the remainder of Giroux’s career so he can raise a Cup in Philly, a city he has given so much to over the years. It will quite frankly be devastating if he doesn’t.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: courierpostonline.com