NHL: Is Claude Giroux Still the Player the Flyers can Rely on?

In both the 2011-’12 and 2013-’14 seasons, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux
finished as the third leading point scorer in the NHL with 93 and 86 points. Last year, the staple of the Flyers’ first line tallied 58 points in 82 games, with a minus-15 rating, barely cracking the top-30 centermen in the league in point production. With four years remaining on a contract that sees the now 29 year old making $8.275 million a year, Philadelphia simply cannot afford that kind of production from the player they decided to build their franchise around not-so-many years ago.

So what is Claude Giroux to the Philadelphia Flyers right now?

Well to start, head coach Dave Hakstol moved Giroux to left-wing to start the 2017-’18 Girouxseason, the first time the right-handed center will be playing that position full-time, outside of special-teams. Analysts and fans alike were surprised by the move, putting a right-handed center (those being hard to come by these days) who has excelled in his position for the majority of his NHL career is certainly uncommon and raised some eyebrows around the league.

Eight games into 2017-’18 and Claude Giroux is currently on pace for a 103 point season.

So is Dave Hakstol some sort of genius at player deployment and saw that a switch to wing would be this beneficial for Philadelphia’s nearly 30 year-old offensive stalwart? There are a lot of sensible arguments against such a claim. One possible reason G’s production has taken a dip? The Flyers simply weren’t very good last season. Now that’s not always a good excuse for the production of a single player (see Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman’s 2016-’17), but history has shown that some players can be bogged down depending on who they’re playing with (see Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi the last two seasons).

claudegAnother reason for Giroux’s decreasing production the last two seasons reside in the statistics, which tell that the Flyers’ captain may just be getting some bad bounces. Most glaring of those stats are shot on goal; last year Giroux shot the puck on-net 199 times. Two years prior, he totaled 279 shots on goal. His 199 shots were the lowest in a full season from Giroux since the 2010-’11 season, except in that season he shot at 14.8% and scored 25 goals. Last season no. 28 shot at 7%, that being almost 3% under his career average, and tallied 14 goals. What’s promising for Giroux is that he’s always been a positive possession player throughout his career, and even in the seasons which saw his production decrease, both his Corsi For % and Fenwick For % (which measure how often the player’s team controls the puck while said player is on the ice) have been in-line with the majority of his career.

These stats are promising because they point to the strong possibility that Giroux will bounce back to the player he was only two-three seasons ago. He’s already off a good start in 2017-2018.


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