PHILADELPHIA (AP) — After 1,000 games and a reign as the longest-serving team captain in Flyers history, Claude Giroux is off to Florida to try to win his first Stanley Cup.
Philadelphia traded Giroux on Saturday in a deal that sent this season’s All-Star game MVP to Florida in a move designed to strengthen the Panthers’ status as a Stanley Cup contender.
“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.”
The Flyers acquired 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.
Giroux has 18 goals and 43 points this season.
“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).
Giroux’s arrival gives Aleksander Barkov an elite linemate and one of the best faceoff aces in the NHL. The Panthers earlier in the week traded a first-round pick and more for Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot.
Giroux was traded after he played his 1,000th game with the Flyers and was feted Thursday with a game in his honor. Drafted in the first round in 2006, Giroux made his Philadelphia debut on Feb. 19, 2008, and has played his entire career with the Flyers. He 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.
Giroux 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.
He 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. Giroux was named captain on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Flyers have only 19 wins and are tied for last place in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s the second significant trade for Florida as the deadline nears, coming after the Panthers landed Chiarot.
The defenseman is expected to join Florida this coming week, when the Panthers play in Montreal. That will likely also be Giroux’s debut game with his new club.
It’s yet another clear sign Florida is all-in on finally reversing its fortunes. The Panthers went to the Stanley Cup final in 1996, the franchise’s third season.
They haven’t won a playoff series since, cycling through more than a dozen coaches, going from one rebuild to another, often playing before an empty arena and dogged by rumors for years that they would be leaving Florida.
But this is as good as it has ever been for the Panthers, who have the second-best record in the NHL entering Saturday, have a Hart Trophy contender in Jonathan Huberdeau, a half-dozen 20-goal scorers this season already and an elite player in Barkov locked up for seven more years.
Plus, the Panthers have survived a ton of adversity this season.
The team watched Joel Quenneville step down as coach seven unbeaten games into the season as part of the fallout from the Chicago Blackhawks’ scandal involving an abused player — something that happened when Quenneville coached there more than a decade ago. And on Friday, the team watched as top defenseman Aaron Ekblad crawled to the bench in agony after enduring a lower-leg injury in Anaheim. But by night’s end the team already had enough information to believe Ekblad dodged the sort of significant injury that likely would have ended his season and put a huge dent in Florida’s title hopes.
The Flyers have long been out of championship contention. But Giroux’s 1,000th game was a rare occasion to celebrate in Philadelphia. 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.
The 34-year-old Giroux ranks second in Flyers history for games played, assists (609) and points (900). he has the eighth-most goals (291). Giroux also holds the Flyers all-time regular-season records in shootout goals (30) and overtime goals (11). 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.
AP Sports Writers Stephen Whyno and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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