Claude Giroux holds all the cards.
The 34-year-old Flyers captain is on an expiring contract and owns a full no-move clause. His team is 19 points out of a playoff spot and the March 21 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching.
If you’re general manager Chuck Fletcher, the person in charge of remodeling a team that will have made the playoffs only once in four seasons following this one, you’d prefer moving Giroux to get something rather than watching him walk for free in the summer. But, again, Giroux is in charge here, and he’s not eager to think about his future just yet.
“To be honest, I haven’t talked to Chuck yet about any of this,” Giroux said on Wednesday. “I’m sure we will at one point. But right now, I’m committed to this team, start winning some hockey games and keep working as a team here.”
Fletcher, when asked, has continued to say it’s Giroux’s decision. The forward has spent his entire 988-game NHL career with the franchise and is having another productive season with 16 goals and 37 points. (His 1,000th NHL game is scheduled for four days before the trade deadline.) But with the Flyers wanting to “aggressively retool,” and Giroux having only advanced out of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2011-12, how much does he want to chase a title this year before determining his future in the summer?
Plenty of contenders would love to add Giroux. And hey, if he really loves being in Philadelphia, he could always re-sign during free agency — of course, on a deal carrying a much-lower salary cap hit than his current one of $8.275 million.
“The organization here, it’s been great for me for the last 14 years,” Giroux said. “They treated me the right way, I had a chance to play with a lot of great players, had great coaches. It’s an honor to have been a Flyer this long.”
Fleury hears all the rumors
Marc-Andre Fleury is another superstar who’s in a similar situation to Giroux. The Blackhawks goaltender is in the final year of his contract, and while he has a 10-team modified no-trade clause, it’s likely the team will keep him unless the 37-year-old wants to leave.
There are plenty of teams who could use goaltending help right now, which means the rumor mill will churn even more with 32 days until the trade deadline.
“It’s part of the game, right?” Fleury said of his name being in trade rumors. “I feel like every trade deadline season you always hear a lot, especially guys whose deals are coming up to an end.”
Fleury has won three Stanley Cups and been to five Cup Finals in his 18-year NHL career. Should he decide to move on from the Blackhawks, who acquired him from the Golden Knights in July, getting a chance to win another title would be the only reason why he’d waive.
“If — if — I move, I would love a chance to win,” Fleury said. “That’s what I play for and that’s what I love. It’s still a big if at this point.”
Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon poured cold water on a report that said the Golden Knights were kicking around the idea of re-acquiring Fleury with Robin Lehner dealing with an injury. But other suitors will certainly be calling the Blackhawks trying to strengthen their goaltending position ahead of the postseason.
For now, Fleury is enjoying his time in Chicago as he waits to see what comes next.
“Yeah, I think it’s been good,” said Fleury, who noted he’d like to play at least one more NHL season. “Obviously I wish we would be winning more, I wish we would be higher in that playoff race, definitely. But love my teammates, great bunch of guys, great staff, locker room, the fans have been good, the people around town have been good to me. Only positive things to say about this place.”