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Boulding: Examining the pros and cons of a Claude Giroux trade to Avs

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It’s the Wild West out here in Colorado.

There are gunslingers in town.

I’m not talking about Billy the kid or Derek Armstrong. I’m talking about Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar. I guess I’m even talking about Nathan MacKinnon, who’s having a fine campaign. 

But this time of year, the reality of a grueling postseason looms large on the horizon like the blazing sun returning from its nightly sabbatical. You can’t escape its brightness, the fiery anticipation of the day awakening something primal and circadian inside you.

And with that dawn comes questions about whether these hired guns are the same as in seasons past. Questions about whether they have what it takes to challenge for Lord Stanley’s sweet silver chalice. Questions about whether they have the firepower to vanquish those who oppose them, those who dare get in the way of their destiny. Questions about whether they need help.

There’s 24 sleeps between now and the first day of spring, which coincidentally serves as the unofficial demarcation between those who matter in the NHL and those who no longer do. One day later? The NHL Trade Deadline.

Convenient, don’t you think, that the day the Earth sheds this season of ice and snow and cold would come just one sun-cycle before the day that teams around the league look to do the same. To transform from noble hunters into apex predators questing for The Cup.

So with merely 11 contests remaining before the deadline, the Colorado Avalanche and general manager Joe Sakic now have a tough decision to contemplate: Does this squad have what it takes to bring the damn thing home or is help required?

Ask yourself whether this team has proven, like Tyler Toffoli going to the Calgary Flames, that they’ve earned Sakic bringing in a big chess piece to push them over the top, or if they’ve shown that they’re capable of climbing the mountain with the squad that they have.

It’s easy to look at a predictable outcome in Boston, given Colorado’s dominating finish the first time the teams met, and think the Colorado club is missing something. That’s foolhardy. It’s equally easy to look at the shellacking of a squad like the Detroit Red Wings, who are completely stuck in the mud at .500, to think the Avs don’t need assistance. That’s folly.

Neither of those games are reliable indicators, and adding at the deadline is about more than recent performance. It’s about cohesion. It’s about depth to get through worst case scenarios upon worst case scenarios.

And so the contemplation turns toward Philadelphia Flyers captain and outstanding beard owner Claude Giroux. Can this 34-year-old Ontario native push the seemingly unstoppable Avalanche—who have lost just 10 games in regulation this season—over the top?

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Giroux is a tricky one for me. There’s no doubt he makes the team better. His 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 44 games for a woefully miserable Flyers group this season—his worst since his first full campaign in 2008-09—would put him sixth on the Avs in points, behind every gunslinger mentioned at the top of this tome and just above left wing Andre Burakovsky. 

Giroux also has playoff experience, though he hasn’t topped 10 postseason points since 2011-12…

Which brings us to the cost of this outstanding specimen of Canadian hockey player. He’s certainly not going to come at a bargain, so the return won’t be insignificant and room will need to be made to take on some of his remaining salary. According to CapFriendly, the Avs have $541,540 to add under the salary cap—plus five empty contract slots of wiggle room—but Giroux’s cap hit is still a very high $2,648,000. That’s fine if Philly retains some of that cash, but it’s not that simple.

The Flyers have room for one contract currently, and somehow this woebegone organization is just $4,490 under the cap ceiling! That’s just unfathomable, and it also means any Giroux deal will likely have to involve an independent third party in order for both franchises to shed salary and players. It’s not as easy as swapping Burakovsky out, plus a prospect and picks, which I feel would hurt the Avs at this juncture.

This alone makes some Sakic magic unlikely.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the fact that Giroux is nine games away from 1,000 played with Philadelphia, and you have to imagine the proximity of hitting such an enormous milestone is important to him. That would happen on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day for you “holiday” aficionados, but it leaves plenty of time for a big move.

Giroux on a line with Kadri certainly makes the Avs more of a two-line threat than they already are. They’re hard to defend against now, without No. 28 dishing on the right wing. So you can see the fit.

But a more realistic scenario is that Sakic and Chris MacFarland—and heck lets toss Craig Billington in there—go out and add backend depth in case Bo Byram is unable (read: makes the right decision for him) to return to action this year. Perhaps they bring in some bottom six scoring depth to add to the black aces reserves as well.

Or maybe the move is an incestuous Western Conference deal that sees Swede Filip Forsberg leave the Nashville Predators

Only time will tell what actually happens, but it seems like a Giroux deal may be put out to pasture.

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Ryan broke into hockey media wIth Mile High Sports before ultimately covering the Avalanche as a pioneering in-house correspondent for the team. A frequent member of the PHWA, his freelance work has been used by The Denver Post, The Athletic, and Mile High Sports. You can catch his radio show, The Hockey Show, on Saturdays on Mile High Sports Radio.

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Bob Neal

Good article Ryan. Backend depth and a bottom sixer (Cal) are the correct direction to head. I think Joe and company will make the correct move.

John Klingenstein

Don’t want Giroux. Team is plenty good to win it all as constructed, and it’s so much better to win with the guys that have been in the struggle over the years. Easily could have won it the last 2 years if things had gone their way. That being said, I’d do a Paul Stastny for JT Compher and a throw-in and call it a day.

Bluemoonjak

Being a long time Flyers fan (73/74) I have seen a lot of good,really good and great players Giroux is a really good player and he would help you out he has a well rounded game and will do what it takes to win, that said the one thing he is not which keeps him from greatness is leadership qualities (there was a reason team Canada did not add him to the Olympic team when he was clearly one of the 10 best Canadians in the world). So if you have a good core of leaders on your team then… Read more »

dk

I’m past Giroux, but was never truly in the “we need Giroux!” camp. I think a good reason for going that way would be in response to the Vegas “Kucherov” chicanery. It appears they will now have a fully capable over-the-cap playoff roster. My feeling was always that we should be adding a defensive piece first, for insurance against Byram’s likely absence. And if we are doing that, it should include grit. Jeff Petry maybe? Mayfield? Jani Hakanpää (I know, Dallas won’t deal to us)? As far as forwards, the thinking should be same IMO… sandpaper players. Artturi Lehkonen or… Read more »

ricoflashback

Big no on Shattenkirk. We don’t need to get smaller on defense with Girard already in the fold. Giroux would be a “nice to have,” not a “gotta have” acquisition. But way too many obstacles to make that happen. A player like Clutterbuck makes a lot more sense as he wouldn’t disrupt the lines while adding a lot of grit and forechecking ability. Plug him in for Helm and with Helm’s low salary, you could keep him, too. I’d even try to pry away Zdeno Chara from the Islanders for the third “D” line, replacing Murray. Sure, he’s 44 years… Read more »

ricoflashback

A Bruin redoux. Seemed to work well the last time. I think the pursuit of another Cup and a solid team & management will entice him. Hey – think of it. Less traffic than New York & Long Island. Which reminds me of one of my favorite New York jokes:

Do you know how a New Yorker performs “mouth to mouth resuscitation?” He stands over the person, bends down and yells, “You better get up and start breathing or you’re gonna friggin die!” Cleaned up language for a Sunday version.

ricoflashback

P.S. – Chara doesn’t have a “no trade clause,” but I’m sure the GM would ask him if it’s o.k. to trade him. I think…

peter martin

Last night our Avs barely beat a shorthanded Vegas squad. Just imagine how strong they’ll be fully healthy. These next two seasons will be perfect times to add rentals. They have three excellent D prospects and can spare to part with one this season if needed. Heck, one of Barron/Helleson may see playoff ice in 2022. Next season, they’ll have the cap space for one full season of a top-six forward (a la Saad), who’ll essentially be a rental. That F will be replaced the following year by sniper Oskar Olausson. The F in question could be… Giroux! If the… Read more »

Doug

The Post floated trading Girard for a rental forward if Byram returns. Why trade someone locked to a team friendly deal for 5 years for an old, expiring UFA? I get the “going for it” angle, but that would be idiotic IMO- would not be fair value.

Adrian Dater

There is zero chance Avs trade Girard before deadline.

ricoflashback

Yes, Sakic has a soft spot in his heart for the diminutive Sammy G. Never mind that he was horrific in the Vegas series last year. He’ll get pounded again once the playoffs start this year. It will be a major point of attack for any team the Avs face. Pressure Sammy, lay the wood on him in the corners, turnover, scoring opportunity. In front of the net, Sammy can’t move anybody and gets tossed aside like a rag doll. Hopefully, you can continue to pair him with a much larger “D” man. You can’t fully cover for him because… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by ricoflashback
Derek O'Neal

JT Miller from Winnipeg.

He’s big, strong, young, great offensively and pretty solid defensively. His cap number is huge. Idk what it’d take to clear room for that cap hit, but can you picture him, Kadri and Burakovsky on the 2nd line? That’s better than most 1st lines in the league! Then picture him bringing a huge boost to the 2nd line PP. Avs would be unstoppable.

Last edited 4 months ago by Derek O'Neal
Adrian Dater

From Vancouver actually.

Derek O'Neal

I just looked up Burakovsky’s cap number. It’s $5M. He’d probably be the key piece needed going the other way in on the trade for Miller. That would work out most of the cap hit. Your 2nd line then becomes – Miller – Kadri – Nichushkin A very formidable 2nd line and Miller is an upgrade over streaky Burakovsky. I love Bruky. He’s been an unbelievable addition by Sakic. You know Washington is sick every time they even hear his name. Lol But Miller is an upgrade if they had to trade him to the Jets to make a deal… Read more »

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