Claude Giroux isn’t just elite, but the most under-appreciated Flyers player of all time

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This isn’t a discussion that I thought I would be having, especially after a 102 point campaign during the 2017-18 season. This isn’t a discussion I ever thought would have two sides to it. This is the cause worth fighting for. This is the stand I will take. This is the hill that I will die upon. Claude Giroux is an elite forward in the NHL, and there is absolutely nothing you or anyone can say to change my mind.

Let’s start simple with Giroux’s three best seasons as an NHL player. His first elite level season was the 2011-12 campaign, which saw him put up 93 points (28g, 65a). 39 of those points came on the powerplay, which is 42% of his total points on the season. Giroux averaged 21:33 on ice that season, and as a center, had a 53.7% at the faceoff circle. Giroux finished in fourth place for the Hart Trophy voting that year.

Comparable players include Steven Stamkos, who had 97 points on the season, John Tavares and his 81 points on the season, and Anze Kopitar, who accumulated 76 points on the year.

Fast forward to the 2013-14 season, Giroux posted another stellar point total (28g, 58a, 86pts). 37 (7g, 30a) of those points came on the powerplay, accounting for 43% of his point total for the year. His average time on ice dropped off a little, but stood over the 20 minute mark once again. He was on ice for an average of 20:26 per night. His faceoff percentage dropped a bit as well, but still stood above the 50% mark at 52.9%. Giroux was nominated for the Hart Trophy, and finished third, right behind Ryan Getzlaf and the winner, Sidney Crosby.

Comparable players that season include Ryan Getzlaf, who tallied 87 points on the year, the Great 8 Alex Ovechkin, who put up 79 points that season, and Patrick Kane and his 69 points during the 2013-14 campaign.

Finally, last year. Claude Giroux had the best year of his career, posting 102 points (34g, 68a) on the year and amassing 36 points (9g, 27a) on the powerplay. 35% of his points came on the man advantage that year. Giroux’s career numbers came after being moved from his natural position, center, to the left wing. Moving to the wing not only lead Giroux to his best year in the NHL yet, it helped open up new first line center Sean Couturier’s offensive potential. Couturier had his best year yet, posting 76 points (31g, 45a). His offensive production is a direct result of being moved up to the top line, centering Claude Giroux and a mix of Jake Voracek and Travis Konecny.

Giroux averaged 20:22 on ice that year, almost identical to the 2013-14 campaign. He also had his best year to date at the faceoff dot, winning 58.6% of the battles he was asked to partake in. He also shared the league lead in assists with Blake Wheeler. After his best season as an NHL forward, and after coming in 2nd in the points race, Claude Giroux was snubbed for the Hart Trophy, not even receiving a nomination.

Comparable performances that year include Nikita Kucherov, who tallied 100 points, Evgeni Malkin with 98 points, and your Hart Trophy winner, Taylor Hall, who tallied 9 less points than Giroux, and who’s team performed just as well, if not worse, during the 2017-18 season.

The argument doesn’t stop there.

Over the last three seasons, Quanthockey has tracked the players who have put up the most points over that time span. The obvious leader, Connor McDavid, stands at 260 points. Nikita Kucherov, Sidney Crosby, Blake Wheeler, and Brad Marchand round out the top 5. Then you get to Patrick Kane at 209, Evgeni Malkin at 207, and Nathan MacKinnon at 206. Coming in at the ninth most points over the past three seasons, none other than the orange and black’s very own Claude Giroux, with 202.

Sure, ninth place doesn’t have all the glitz and glam that a top 5 spot would, but when you consider some of the names that are below him on the list, a certain adjective comes to mind. An adjective used to describe a standout performer who consistently produces points and helps his team to victory night in and night out.

Claude Giroux standing at ninth place in points over the last three seasons puts him ahead of names like Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. Names like Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres. Names like Hart Trophy winning Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils and fellow 2018 nominee Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. Best yet, Claude Giroux stands taller than Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. Ovie sits right behind Giroux in 10th place, and Steven Stamkos isn’t even in the top 50.

Over the last 10 seasons, there are only 3 players who have more points than Claude Giroux. Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Patrick Kane. Think of anyone else who has played consistently over the past 10 years. Phil Kessel, John Tavares, even Geno Malkin. Yup, Claude Giroux has more points than they do over the past 10 seasons.

This year, Giroux is in store for another doozy of a season. G is on pace for 27 goals. and 68 assists, putting him at a potential total of 95 points. His powerplay stats are projected at 2 goals and 21 assists, accounting for 24% of his point total this year. Even amidst having the worst powerplay in the league, Claude Giroux is still expected to put up fairly decent numbers on the man advantage.

A career consisting of 226 goals, 493 assists in 773 games over 12 years. 72 powerplay goals, 211 powerplay assists. 719 points in 773 games. Claude Giroux is the reason the Flyers are consistently a team on the cusp of contending. He has points in 10 of his last 13 games currently, 16 to be exact. At 30 years old, Captain Claude only seems to be getting better with age.

Merriam-Webster defines elite as “superior in quality, rank, skill, etc…” Giroux is the best quality player the Flyers have right now, and is among the best quality players in the league in terms of value to their team (hey Hart Trophy voters…). He consistently ranks in the top 10 in scoring, and is 4th in scoring over the past 10 years. That’s an elite ranking. Skills, well, they speak for themselves…

Check, check, and check. Claude Giroux is an elite performer. He is an elite talent in the NHL. Claude Giroux, in turn, is elite. I rest my case.

 

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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