On the surface, the question seems absurd. Why would the Flyers even consider such a thing? Claude Giroux is 27-years old and in the prime of his carrer. He is considered one of the five best players in the league by all the experts. Over the past five years, nobody in the NHL has registered more points than Giroux. Not Sidney Crosby. Not Alex Ovechkin. Not Patrick Kane. So the Flyers shouldn’t even consider such a notion right? Claude Giroux should be one of the players Flyers GM Ron Hextall builds the team around. Maybe so, but when you look at where the Flyers are in their rebuilding process, the notion starts to make sense.
The Flyers are still in the beginning phase of their rebuild and Hextall has only just begun the process of tearing the Flyers down and then building them back up through the NHL Draft. He is off to a good start. The 2014 draft class is considered by experts such as Craig Button to be a strong one. Travis Sanheim, Nichols Aude-Kubel and Oskar Lindblom are all considered very good NHL prospects. Hextall made two shrewd moves at the the trade deadline. First, he acquired two second round picks from the Chicago Blackhawks for Kimmo Timmonen and then he then traded Braydon Coburn to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 24-year old defensman Radko Gudas and Tampa’s first and third round picks in the 2015 draft. The Flyers still have a lot of dead weight that needs to be shed from this team though. Vinny Lecavlier, R.J. Umberger, Luke Schenn, Nick Grossman and Mark Streit are all guys who need to be moved in order to both give the Flyers salary cap room and to make a space the roster for the young players in their system. That process takes time. It will also take time for the young prospects in the Flyers system to both graduate to the NHL and establish themselves as bona fide NHL Players. It will take at least three years for that process to be completed. By that time Giroux will be 30 years old and probably still a good player, but also past his prime.
So do the Flyers trade Giroux now while his market value is at its highest? The Flyers would be able to get a huge return on him in the way of young players and/or prospects. The Flyers would also be shedding $8 million a year off of their salary cap. This would give the Flyers a lot more flexibility to go out and sign free agents if they choose to go that route. When the Flyers are finally ready to contend three years from now, instead of a 30-year old Giroux, you will have a 21 or 22-year old star in the making who’s best years are in front of him, not behind him.
Here’s a hypothetical. The Flyers trade Giroux to the Arizona Coyotes for the third overall pick in the draft and take Mitch Marner and then with their own pick at No. 7, the Flyers pick winger Miko Rantanen. So three years from now, instead of a 30-year old Giroux, you will have both Marner and Rantanen at 21 hitting their stride and approaching the prime of their carrers. Its food for thought and its not totally outlandish for the Flyers and Hextall to consider it