Claude Giroux quickly makes himself at home with the Panthers
The Flyers have endured such a nightmarish season that it was long clear they would deal Claude Giroux before the trade deadline. The team’s longtime captain – a free agent to be at 34 – was easily the club’s best marketable asset.
But because Giroux’s contract includes a no trade clause, limiting the Flyers’ leverage, they weren’t going to get a major haul in return. At least they ended up with Florida’s first-round draft pick, though it’s not till 2024. The one player they received, Owen Tippett, is a young player with underwhelming numbers.
I watched parts of Giroux’s first two games with the Panthers and he fit right in, recording four assists. Florida is just loaded offensively, so he’s playing with highly skilled linemates.
What I want to know is, what happened to the Flyers?
Two seasons ago, they looked like a team on the ascent, under coach Alain Vigneault. Then last year they took a major step back, and this season has been an unmitigated disaster. Injuries are part of it, but the talent just isn’t there. With few exceptions, the club’s young players have failed to develop. Many have actually regressed (Ivan Provorov, etc.).
In retrospect, a huge mistake was taking Nolan Patrick over Cale Makar with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. The 23-year-old Makar, a defenseman with game-changing skill, has 73 points in 62 games this year. Imagine the difference someone that exceptional – at that age – would have on the Flyers. It’s really hard not to think about what might have been. Especially given how quickly this once-proud franchise has unraveled.