Would Claude Giroux Fit Better With the Avalanche or Panthers?

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers have struggled in this 2021-2022 NHL season, and as a result, trade rumors continue to hover over captain Claude Giroux.

The 34-year-old Flyers forward has played his entire career in Philadelphia, and he celebrated 1,000 games with the franchise earlier this week. However, as it becomes clearer and clearer that his team will not be capable of competing for a playoff spot this season, or in the near future, Giroux has become available.

By all indications, the trade will happen with either the Colorado Avalanche or Florida Panthers. Of course, a surprise team could sneak into the conversation, as many NHL clubs could use a player like Giroux, but these two seem to be the favorites.

Either team would be a good choice for the Flyers captain, as he’ll have a chance to win the Stanley Cup either way. One team, though, could use Giroux’s services more than the other.

Does Giroux fit better with Colorado or Florida?

When looking at both teams, they have similar reasons to want Claude Giroux. With that said, I think the Panthers would be a better fit for him.

If the 34-year-old moves to Denver, he will be an asset to a team that already appears to be the clear favorite in its conference. Sure, teams like the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are capable of contending, but very few people in the hockey world would bet against the Avs right now.

Giroux would be able to improve the Avalanche power play, but it already ranks sixth in the NHL entering play on Saturday. Where he could have the largest impact is in the faceoff department, where Colorado ranks 31st in the league.

The only problem, though it’s a good problem to have, is that the Avalanche are already set when it comes to centers in top-six roles. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the league’s best players, while Nazem Kadri has enjoyed an elite season for Colorado.

Kadri wins 50.1% of his faceoffs, which isn’t spectacular, but it doesn’t necessarily warrant a move to the wing. MacKinnon could get shifted over, but that would disrupt a lethal top line. Putting Giroux on the wing, meanwhile, would defeat the purpose of his added ability.

Again, not a bad problem to have, but it’s not a perfect fit in Colorado.

Florida also has two quality players in the center positions on the top two lines, but Sam Bennett, who has 37 points in 52 games, could be moved down much more easily than Kadri to give the Cats a dynamic set of centers that fit reasonably well into their roles.

The Panthers, like the Avalanche, struggle mightily to win faceoffs, ranking 26th in the NHL. Bennett wins 47.28% of his draws, so it would make sense to get Giroux in that second-line center position.

Giroux could also be of assistance to Florida’s tenth-ranked power play. That is a solid unit for the Panthers, but having options when it comes to special teams is never a bad thing, especially when ten of the top 14 penalty killing units reside in the Eastern Conference.

That leads me to the top reason that Giroux is a better fit in Sunrise: the level of competition in the East. As noted earlier, the West is good but not great. The East is absolutely loaded.

Coming into Saturday, the Cats owned the top spot in the conference, but there are four teams within seven points of the Panthers, making their lead anything but safe.

The Carolina Hurricanes are one win away from tying Florida, while the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning are in contention to steal the division from the Cats.

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In a matter of days, we will know which team Giroux will be joining. While several teams are in the mix, watch for the Panthers to come out on top.