Stop me if you’ve heard this before, The Minnesota Wild is a center away from making a deep playoff game. Not sure about you, but it’s anxious to know what happened the last time they were in the situation. Yes, the world famous Martin Hanzal trade. What did it get Wild? 13 points in 20 games and a quick five-game exit in the first round. The Wild finds itself in a position to strike again this year. But this time, rumor has it that the actual superstar Claude Giroux may be at stake at the trade deadline.
Giroux has been with the Philadelphia Flyers since they named him 22nd overall in 2006. Although it took a few years for Giroux to gain a foothold in the NHL, he has been a constant contributor to the Flyers every year. Since his name is out there, it’s hard not to wonder what he would bring to Wild.
Giroux’s leadership has grown during his years in Philadelphia, and he eventually became team captain in 2013. Giroux had the pleasure of playing with Mike Richards and Chris Pronger, who are cup winners, where Pronger is a Hall of Famer. That experience had to affect his ability to get through to teammates.
Some fans may be hesitant to hire a high-status veteran after what happened to the former leadership team. But the leaders of this wild team have a different mentality than those of recent times. Giroux entering this locker room would bring an extra, valuable voice that brings playoff experience. And perhaps more importantly, playoff production. He has scored 73 points in 85 career games since the season. Jason Pominville could never.
Giroux brings another thing that Wild has missed since Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal traveled: one that can win critical faceoffs. Since the 2017-18 season, Giroux has won at least 58% of the faceoffs he has taken. The only regular Wild center over 50% is Nico Sturm. That persistence in the faceoff circle could help Wild’s powerplay, making it even more of a threat as the playoffs approach.
His pass-first mentality would fit into the current composition of the Wild list. Theoretically, Giroux would go in between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. Ask Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny what Giroux can do with talented wingers. Kaprizov has scored 40 points through 32 games this year with a revolving door of centers playing with him. Bringing Giroux into the fold would give Kaprizov a true top-line center that could potentially take some of the pressure off Kirill to create play and focus a little more on scoring.
So Giroux would help. But what would it cost to bring him to Minnesota? Giroux has a No Movement clause and should be involved in coming to Wild. The Wild has the ability for a team that can go deep into the playoffs and make some noise on the way to the cup finals. Why would Giroux not see this as a great opportunity? The Wild have a solid defensive group when they are healthy. They have skilled goal scorers in Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, and Marcus Foligno, who surprisingly are level with Kaprizov as number two on the team with 14 goals. And Minnesota has a better goalie tandem that Giroux played up front in Philly.
What would Wild be willing to give up when it comes to compensation? Trading with Giroux would be a lease exclusively for Wild. With the cap position the team faces after this year, Minnesota probably would not be able to afford Giroux in the future. But this is their chance to make it to the Cup right now, and they can prove it by going all-in on Giroux.
However, I do not think I see Wild giving up much more than a 1st round pick and a B-level prospect for Giroux. Prices were down by last year’s deadline, and as big as Giroux is, teams are not so willing to give up big prices for two months.
Giroux is the ultimate win-now move that Wild should consider making this year. This move shows the locker room and the fans that the front office is serious about running at the Stanley Cup while it can. We are not talking about a Hanzal situation. If Giroux is coming to Minnesota, feel free to think twice about booking tickets everywhere except for the parade down Kellogg Boulevard in June.