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Philly Moment: Drafting the Captain

12 years ago, Bobby Clarke, on stage, forgot the name of our first round pick: Claude Giroux.

But first, we’ll take it back to his junior days.

Born in 1988 in Hearst, Ontario, Giroux grew up a fan of the Canadiens. This means he has never truly enjoyed a Stanley Cup win.

Claude went undrafted in the QMJHL entry draft, and showed up to Gatineau for a tryout. It didn’t take long to earn a contract, and coaches were impressed from the first workout.

The thing about him was the lack of size. Every scouting report on Claude Giroux said it. To be fair, he was well under 170. It couldn’t help, and hockey was still in that phase where size truly mattered.

So of course, he lit the lamp early and often with 103 points in 69 games.

The next year, he bumped that point total up to 112 in six fewer games.

In one 19 game Gatineau playoff run, Giroux scored 51 points. It would only take 33 AHL games the next season (and 34 points!) to get the call to the big club, where he never looked back.

Now, we’ll look at the value of his selection.

Paul Holmgren saw Giroux as the perfect prototype for the “new” NHL, one based on speed and quickness as opposed to lumbering size.

Simon Nolet, one of Philadelphia’s CHL scouts, said Giroux was about eighth on their list. It was also rumored they wanted Trevor Lewis, who went to the Kings at 17.

First overall in the 2006 draft was Erik Johnson, to the Blues. A good player, but they passed on some more elite guys.

A redraft of 2006 would have Giroux as a top 5 pick, easily. Backstrom, Toews, Kessel and Marchand (a steal at 71st) would round out the top 5. Getting Giroux at 22 was the best possible pick they could have made.

Scott Cullen of TSN researched that 22nd overall picks playing on average almost 200 NHL games. That, or a very good AHL player.

20.8% of them become top-6 forwards.

Philadelphia made a franchise altering pick that day. Let’s look at his records among Flyers:

Overtime goals (1st) with 9

Games Played (8th) with 738

Assists (T-3rd) with 463

Points (5th) with 677

A decent, healthy 2018-19 will have him moving up those lists – lists that he’s made with some very mediocre supporting casts.

Claude Giroux was ranked 38th by Central Scouting, but Nolet loved what he saw. Despite his sub-150 pound frame, the determination and drive set him apart. Two words that could define his entire career.

After 3 years of steady decline, there were fans who wanted blood, and to strip the C. Even as one of G’s biggest advocates, I started to worry he would never be the same player.

Now, at 30 years old, he’s just put up his first 100 point season. Claude ranks 2nd this decade among all NHL players in points with 603, per Alexander Appleyard. This is the best all around team since 2009-10. He could be on a second wind and ready to lead a real contender.

“When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, ‘I don’t know who you’re planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift’, that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there.” -Peter Laviolette, 2012

Evan Watson
Evan Watson

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