Flyers trade longtime captain Giroux to Panthers

The Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday traded longtime captain Claude Giroux, who recently played his 1,000th career game with the franchise, to the Florida Panthers.

In exchange, the Flyers receive forward Owen Tippett, a conditional first-round pick in 2024 and a third round pick in the 2023 draft. They also traded Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov and their fifth-round pick in 2024 as part of the deal.

The Flyers will receive Florida’s first-round 2024 selection, unless the pick falls within the top 10. In that condition, Philadelphia will receive Florida’s 2025 first-round selection.

“Any day that you trade your captain is a tough day, and with how much Claude has meant to this organization and how he has represented himself for 15 years, makes it all that more difficult to say goodbye,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Claude is one of the best players to ever wear a Flyer uniform.”

Giroux, 34, is a pending unrestricted free agent and was expected to be moved before the NHL’s trade deadline on March 21. He had to waive his no-movement clause in the final months of his $66.2 million, eight-year contract. The Flyers will pay 50% of what’s left on his deal.

The Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins were also in the mix for Giroux, with sources telling ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that Florida’s offer was “aggressive, [but] not as aggressive as Boston or Colorado.”

Now that the Panthers have won out, Giroux could slot in next to Florida’s superstar center Aleksander Barkov and take the Panthers’ already potent offense up a notch. Plus, Giroux is one of the best faceoff players in the league, at 60.9%.

“He has demonstrated his elite leadership and work ethic during his tenure in Philadelphia and we are thrilled to be able to welcome a player of his caliber to our lineup,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said.

The Panthers lead the Eastern Conference with 90 points (42-14-6) and have been one of the league’s most dominant clubs all season.

It’ll be a definite change of pace for Giroux, given the abysmal year Philadelphia is having. The Flyers (19-31-11) are tied for last place in the Metropolitan Division and appear headed toward a significant organizational overhaul. But Giroux has individually shown he’s still a valuable commodity with 18 goals and 42 points in 57 games.

What will also be new for Giroux is playing for a team other than Philadelphia. He has spent his entire career with the club since being drafted 22nd overall in 2006, and on Thursday joined Hall of Famer and two-time Stanley Cup champion Bobby Clarke as the only players to reach 1,000 games entirely with the Flyers.

Clarke presented Giroux with the silver stick to mark the occasion, and he was given a Rolex watch by his teammates and a crystal by the NHL. Giroux also has played in 85 career playoff games for Philadelphia.

He celebrated his final game this week in Philly with his wife, two young sons, and friends and former teammates.

“The fans and the organization, my teammates have been so good to me for so many years and that’s one of the reasons it was pretty emotional after the game,” Giroux said.

He was a healthy scratch for the Flyers on Friday night in Ottawa, as the organization sorted through his many suitors.

Giroux has 900 career points and is eighth on the Flyers’ career list with 291 goals. He helped the Flyers reach the 2010 Stanley Cup finals and was awarded the All-Star MVP this season.

Tippett gives Philadelphia a key piece to build on for the future. Drafted 10th overall in 2017, the 23-year-old winger has struggled to find his NHL legs, appearing in 94 games with 33 points. He will get a fresh start with a Flyers club stocked with other young talents they will lean on in seasons to come.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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