Flyers captain Claude Giroux is having one of the best seasons of his career. He’s currently on pace for a career-high 96 points, sits at 2nd in the league in scoring (70P) and 4th in assists (50A). And, he’s doing all of this at the ripe old age of 30! So why on earth hasn’t his name come up in the Hart trophy conversation at all this year? Let’s take a look at all the aspects of what make up a Hart Trophy winner and how Giroux stacks up…
THE POINTS AND WHO’S SCORING ‘EM
As a league veteran that hasn’t brought home any major hardware to this point in his career, breaking through as a trophy contender will be no small task. Pair that with the fact that the NHL is knee-deep in one of the greatest youth revivals in the history of the sport and you have one hell of a fight ahead of the Flyers’ seasoned captain.
To this point, Nikita Kucherov (78P) has had a comfortable leg up on the competition this year and an MVP award at this point in his young career would be fitting. But, a few 4-point outings for Giroux and his doubters could be singing a different song pretty quickly.
He’s one of the older players in the top-10 in scoring this year, surrounded by the likes of 24-year-old Kucherov, 21-year-old Connor McDavid (69P), and 24-year-old Johnny Gaudreau (70P). His veteran counter parts that are near the league lead are more of the garden variety that could win an MVP award on merit alone (ie: Evgeni Malkin (70P), Steven Stamkos (68P), Alex Ovechkin (67P)).
DOES HE STACK UP?
Absolutely! Giroux is a 5-time All-Star who’s finished inside the top 10 in scoring in 3 out of his 10 seasons in the NHL and looks to do so again this year. He was third in MVP voting in the 2013-14 season and he’s scoring at a pace that should propel him into the conversation again.
QUALITY OF TEAMMATES
The definition of NHL MVP is a loose one at best. Whether or not it should be defined as the player who’s team would be considerably worse without him or the actual “best player” in the league is unclear to this day. For the sake of the former, let’s take a look at who Captain Claude has at his side in comparison to the players in contention.
On most teams with a top-10 talent on the roster, there tends to be another player that follows closely behind on the league’s leaderboards. For Kucherov it’s Stamkos, for Malkin it’s Sidney Crosby/Phil Kessel (66P/66P), for Gaudreau it’s Sean Monahan (55P), etc.
The Flyers are no different. Jakub Voracek sits just 2 points back of Giroux at 68 and leads the league in assists. He’s been a force of his own this year and both he and Giroux have created chances with and without eachother. Sean Couturier has been no slouch either this year, hovering near the league lead in goals and raking up 60 points.
DOES HE STACK UP?
Couturier and Giroux have impacted each other’s seasons immensely this year and this could theoretically hurt Giroux in the Hart Trophy race. But, with most of the other contenders having a sidekick of their own, this fact could also serve as a testament to how talented Giroux really is. Before this season, Couturier hadn’t eclipsed 40 points. His once promising career was stuck in neutral after 4 consecutive 34 to 39 point season. Giroux’s move to the wing and his ability to share the defensive responsibility allowed Couturier to flourish offensively. All things considered, this category should have a positive impact on Giroux’s case for MVP.
SUCCESS OF THE TEAM
In most cases, Hart Trophy winners are on successful teams. After all, how valuable can a player really be if he can’t lead his team to victory on a nightly basis? In regards to the top-10 point scorers this year, Kucherov, Malkin, Giroux, Blake Wheeler, Stamkos, Voracek, Ovechkin, Kessel and Crosby are all on teams in a playoff position. With that many players scoring at MVP-caliber paces and finding success in the team standings, giving the edge to any one player in particular could be a tall task.
One shining difference from the Flyers and the rest of the top-10 player’s teams is that the Flyers neither qualified for the playoffs last season or were expected to lock up a position this year. They were pegged as a wildcard hopeful at best and have far exceeded expectations to this point. Claude Giroux is deserving of a large amount of the credit for the Flyers’ success this year.
DOES HE STACK UP?
Without a doubt. With the Flyers just 3 points out of 1st in the Metro and plenty of divisional games left on the roster, the impact that Giroux has had on his team this year can’t go unnoticed much longer. The more success they have, the more credit he’ll receive.
Claude Giroux is frickin’ cool, man. How many team captains get arrested for allegedly touching a police officers butt? One, that’s how many. G-Baby knows how to have a good time. He’s funny (look up some of his ‘chirping’ videos) and just such a likable character. Plus look at his doggo:
The cool factor is definitely there!
His charity organization, the Claude Giroux Foundation, ‘supports various organizations who better the lives of individuals and families in need throughout the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Hearst, Ontario communities’ -claudegiroux28.com. He also hosts a different children’s organization at every home game in his personal club suite at the Wells Fargo Center through his Giroux’s Crew program.
Plus, Peter Laviolette once called Giroux the best player in the world. That has to count for something! He’s one hell of a leader and makes the players around him better by association. Look no further than Travis Konecny’s sky rocket to relevancy this year for proof of that. Since joining Giroux and Couturier’s line, Konecny has managed 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 24 games. He had scored just 10 points in the 36 games prior to the formation of that line.
DOES HE STACK UP?
Duh. As one of the longest tenured captains in the league, he’s shown his leadership qualities since the start of his career. He’s cool, he’s funny and he’s a great ambassador for the game.
SO… WHY ISN’T HE IN THE HART TROPHY CONVERSATION?
Because we’re not talking about him enough! A lot of fans are still weary of the Flyers’ captain after his abysmal performances the past few years. This has led many of us to doubt his deservedness of the MVP award to this point in the season in fear of a monumental collapse at some point. Well, were 60 games in and it’s officially time to start the push for our fearless leader and help propel him into the conversation. Claude ‘Best Player in the World’ Giroux for Hart Trophy winner! Do it for the doggo!
Follow @ustincmitchell on Twiitter along with the rest of the @PhiladelphiaSN crew!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports