At this point of his career in the NHL, it is obvious that Claude Giroux’s window to win a Stanley Cup as a key contributor is closing. His stint with the Florida Panthers in the second half of the 2021-22 NHL season was not able to give him the chance to kiss and lift the Cup, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for the 34-year- old vet. With that said, here are three potential destinations in the 2022 NHL free agency for Claude Giroux, including two contenders and another that will always make some sense no matter what.
3 best destinations for Claude Giroux in 2022 NHL free agency
3. Minnesota Wild
The Wild have already made a huge wave in the 2022 NHL offseason when they decided that it was time to let go of Kevin Fiala, a talented forward who knows how to get pucks in the net — and also give his teammates excellent scoring opportunities. Trading Fiala was necessary for the Wild because they knew they couldn’t afford to sign him to a new lucrative contract that he deserves. The Wild also felt that they could at least flip Fiala into a couple of assets. However, none of those assets are likely to make an immediate impact for this Minnesota team that is still considered a Stanley Cup Playoffs contender.
The Stanley Cup window for the Wild remains very much open, but the departure of Fiala and his 85-point production — second overall on the team — leave a massive hole in Minnesota’s offense. Kirill Kaprizov is going to need help, to say the least, in keeping the Wild’s offense afloat. Giroux could be that guy for Minnesota, which finished the 2021-22 NHL season fifth overall with 3.72 goals per contest.
At his age, Giroux’s not going to be the type of player Minnesota would hand a long-term contract, but he’s also someone they could spend quality money on while trying to its tight cap situation manageable — and addressing a major need ahead of the 2022 -23 NHL season. There’s also a reason to believe that Giroux would prefer Minnesota as a landing spot this offseason, as it was reported prior to the 2022 NHL trade deadline that the Twin Cities were among those considered as a destination.
I’m told that Claude Giroux has made it known to Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher that Colorado is where he wants to go. If somehow that doesn’t work out, Minnesota or St. Louis would be acceptable alternatives
2. Philadelphia Flyers
Whatever happens the rest of his pro career, Giroux will always be remembered for his days with the Flyers. Philadelphia isn’t viewed as a Stanley Cup contender in the coming season, the same case for the team in previous seasons, hence the trade that sent Giroux to the Panthers. Considering his age and where the Flyers are at the moment, it’s unlikely that Giroux would still be a productive asset when the time comes for Philadelphia to be a serious Stanley Cup contender again.
All that being said, his connection and history with the Flyers should always be considered a factor, regardless of each side’s trajectory. The Flyers, and basically most other teams out there, could still use what Giroux could bring to the table. In the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Panthers, Giroux even finished second on the team with eight points on the strength of three goals and five assists
1. Florida Panthers
Speaking of the Panthers, they should certainly be in the discussion when it comes to the topic of Giroux’s next stop. Even though Florida fell flat on its face in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs where they got wobbled in the first round by the Washington Capitals and got absolutely trucked in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Panthers still present an excellent environment for Giroux’s pursuit of an NHL championship.
Florida’s top priority this offseason could be the extension of forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, but enough attention should be paid by the Panthers to what it would take for them to keep Giroux in the fold.
Giroux didn’t exactly shortchange the Panthers when they traded for him. In fact, he sort of flourished with the team, posting a total of 23 points in just 18 games in Florida threads in the regular season. Then he continued his scoring ways in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where only Carter Verhaeghe had more points than him.
The Panthers have a new head coach in Paul Maurice, but that doesn’t appear to be a major hindrance for a potential reunion of Giroux and the Panthers, who boasted a league-best 4.11 goals per game last season — the only team that averaged at least four goals per outing.