Crushed by injuries and two double-digit losing streaks, the Flyers are in full-on sell mode, enduring one of their worst seasons in franchise history.
Chuck Fletcher is set to "aggressively retool" the club at the NHL trade deadline.
"Everything's on the table," the Flyers' general manager said Jan. 26.
Leading up to the March 21 deadline, we'll evaluate the Flyers' candidates to be moved.
We start our series with Claude Giroux.
Why Giroux could be traded
The 34-year-old captain is on the final year of an eight-year, $66.2 million contract, which has a full no-movement clause. The Flyers have stomached a second straight underachieving season and are on path to miss the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.
Giroux has had one of the most accomplished careers in Flyers history. He's the longest-tenured active athlete in Philadelphia, dating back to February 2008 before the Phillies won the World Series that fall, and he understands the Flyers' position. The team is headed for a remake in many ways and Giroux is headed for free agency in the offseason.
"I think we can probably all see that it's weighing on him," Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo said last Friday. "It's hard to remember sometimes that they're human beings. You look at G, this is not just your average player who has been with an organization for three, four years and might potentially get traded. We're talking about growing up in this organization and this town, a guy that's really given a lot.
"This is a real difficult time for him, there's no question. In talking with G, as difficult as it is, we need him to go out and do what he does. And I'm quite confident that he will. It's a real tough thing, it's a bit of a distraction, I would say, for everybody, but there's no way that we can allow anything to be an excuse for us."
To no surprise, Giroux will play hard to the end. From a trade decision standpoint, both parties will do right by each other.
Giroux is en route to his 1,000th career game four days before the trade deadline. It would be shocking if Fletcher doesn't have him get there in a Flyers jersey. He's a smart and benevolent GM. A ceremony for that kind of milestone is the ideal sendoff for an all-time great Flyer. Also, waiting builds leverage for the Flyers because deadlines spark action by contending clubs looking to augment their Cup chances.
What they're saying
Giroux is arguably the crown jewel of the entire trade market and for good reason.
He has been one of the game's most consistent and durable producers over the last decade plus, he has gotten better in his 30s, he plays in all situations and he's a dogged competitor that's hungry to win.
Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli pinned Giroux as the No. 1 target at this year's deadline.
The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported that the Flyers are looking for a "triple-asset package" in return for Giroux.
"A first, a young player and a prospect or certainly at least two assets with higher quality," LeBrun said last week on TSN's Insider Trading. "It's a high price to get in on Claude Giroux."
Most Western Conference teams in Cup contention would seemingly have interest in Giroux. The NHL-leading Avalanche have been the most publicized team for Giroux's potential landing spot. Colorado assistant general manager Chris MacFarland scouted the Flyers' home games Feb. 26 and March 1.
The Blues, Kings and Predators also come to mind.
Teams don't often trade within their division, so if the Flyers are going to deal Giroux to an Eastern Conference club, someone in the Atlantic Division makes most sense. Perhaps one of the big boys in Florida (Lightning and Panthers).
When he spoke last month, the reality of Giroux closing in on his final Philadelphia chapter felt prevalent.
The Flyers can't and won't sell Giroux short.
"He’s our captain, he’s been our best player this year," Fletcher said Jan. 26. "Nobody cares more about the Flyers than he does. I think we have to recognize what we’re dealing with here, he’s a franchise icon, his jersey’s going to be in the rafters. To me, he’s a Hall of Fame player."
As LeBrun noted, the Flyers should absolutely aim for a first-round pick and a younger, impact player now, along with a possible prospect.
The Flyers don't have to trade Giroux. Of course, they'll respect his wishes; he contractually and rightfully holds the keys here.
But if a trade is most likely, Giroux is too good and too meaningful to the franchise to not seek a king's ransom.
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