A season ago, the Philadelphia Flyers said goodbye to an era. Alain Vigneault was relieved from his duties as the head coach for interim Mike Yeo, Keith Yandle called it an NHL career after a season on Broad Street, and most vividly, Claude Giroux went to the Florida Panthers.
Sellers at the trade deadline in 2022-2023, the Flyers began to turn over. Three teams were favorites to make a deal for Giroux; the Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, and Ottawa Senators. Following his final home game at the Wells Fargo Center, a victory over the Nashville Predators, he shipped to South Beach. Giroux wanted to compete for a Stanley Cup. It’s just ironic the Avalanche were the 2022 Stanley Cup champions.
Giroux selected Florida, and it tamed the haul Chuck Fletcher would receive for the former captain in Philadelphia.
The Panthers received Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov, and a 2024 fifth-round selection. In return, the Flyers acquired Owen Tippett with a 2023 third-round selection and a conditional 2024 first. It didn’t take long for Giroux to have quite a run with his new teammates before being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason. Tippett struggled with consistency, but when he did contribute a point, Philadelphia was 4-2-0 in 2021-2022.
Finally, the trade came full circle. The Flyers visited the Senators last Saturday, defeating them 2-1. Giroux scored, but Tippett tasted victory.
Quickly, this trade is less about the production numbers totaled. Comparing those would be apples to oranges in terms of how Giroux and Tippett are used by their coaches in the lineup. Established on the top line with Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle, Giroux is the odds-on favorite to look better on paper. Tippett is not established in a volatile lineup. John Tortorella is always configuring his forwards and learning about his roster.
In that sense, 2022-2023 is a huge season for Tippett. Tortorella frequently mentions ‘energy’ when speaking about his lineup. Tippett has it and knows when to be aggressive to the net with a powerful shot. Fletcher acquired a player with goal-scorer instinct, but he’s evolving due to Tortorella challenging him to improve his game away from the puck:
“The next step for Tip is he has to learn to play quicker. It’s a good lesson against that team. That’s a team that’s on you all the time. At times he wasn’t really anticipating the next play, but I like where he’s going.”John Tortorella; 10/29/2022
Tortorella said that about Tippett following an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes; a game he had a powerplay goal. What’s important is how Tortorella likes the way Tippett plays. For Philadelphia, his efforts make Tippett a critical cog of the future; possibly in a similar way Giroux once was.
“He’s grown. He still has a lot of things to learn; the quickness of the league and everything that comes with that. He’s given us some good minutes.”John Tortorella; 11/9/2022
Lately, Tippett is performing more soundly during even-strength scenarios, passing the challenges Tortorella declared. In a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, Tippett secured his first multi-point game with the Flyers, standing out as one of the best skaters on the ice in the process.
“He has a chance to become a really good power forward in this league. He’s got the big body, still growing into it. We all know about his shot. He has a number of things to learn as far as what it is to be a pro each, and every day in the NHL.”John Tortorella; 11/9/2022
Currently, Tippett is on the second hottest five-game run (3G, 1A) of his NHL career. His best point cluster dates back to the beginning of May 2021, where Tippett notched six points (2G, 4A) in the same span. Finding his stride as a goal-scorer, he could extend his hot streak tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
(Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)