Now that Claude Giroux has become the second leading scorer in Flyers’ history, what better time than today to start the debate over his credentials for possible induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame someday.
With his NHL career point No. 884 in Wednesday night’s 3-2 overtime win at Seattle, Giroux moved ahead of Hall of Famer Bill Barber into the No. 2 spot, now trailing only another Hall of Famer, Bob Clarke (1,210).
That puts the Flyers captain in elite company but even if he should get well past 1,000 points down the road, is that enough to put him among the sport’s alltime best in the shrine at Toronto?
On the plus side, among his superstar peers, he trails only Patrick Kane, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby for points in the years during which their careers intersected. Also, Giroux has 308 power-play points since the 2010-11 season, which puts ahead of all the aforementioned gentlemen. His durability is unquestionable: He’s missed less than a dozen games since the start of his career, which is now approaching the 1,000 mark.
On the negative side, Giroux has never won a Stanley Cup and never been a Hart Trophy (MVP) winner or even played in the Olympics. He does have one 100-point season but has never been a first- or second-team NHL All-Star.
Flyers and TNT network analyst Keith Jones believes Giroux is qualified for this ultimate honor but also acknowledges both sides of the debate have merit.
“Personally I believe he does belong,’’ Jones said in a telephone conversation. “I think his numbers are remarkably good. His power-play numbers are tremendous. He’s played on a team which has not surrounded him with superstar talent – it’s not like Crosby who has (Evgeni) Malkin or (Edmonton’s Connor) McDavid who has (Leon) Draisaitl. Claude has done the most important thing, which is be a productive player consistently throughout his career.’’
Before the Flyers began their recent streak of success, there were rumors Giroux – who could be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 — might waive his no-movement clause and leave himself open to a trade. He could always serve as a rental to a serious Cup contender and then possibly return to the Flyers next fall.
But that talk has died down a bit since Mike Yeo took over from Alain Vigneault as coach. Giroux looks more comfortable in Yeo’s modified system.
Giroux, who turns 34 on Jan. 12, appears to have a number of productive years in front of him. He somewhat controls his future in Philadelphia. If he was of a mind to join a serious contender such as Tampa Bay, he could either push for a trade or just wait until the summer and sign wherever he wants.
He says he wants to play until he’s 40. If he does and keeps putting up decent numbers, it will be hard to keep him out of the Hall.
The only things which could hold him back are the possible lack of a championship ring or a failure to be named a first- or second-team All-Star on a consistent basis.
“It plays into it,’’ Jones said. “I do believe that’s something which will hold weight. That’s something I know the (selection) committee is always looking at. They also look at ‘was he the best player at his position on a year-to-year basis?’ That’s a tougher argument because of players such as Crosby, Malkin and all the center icemen who have been doing great things for many years.’’
Being a dominant player can make a difference. Eric Lindros finished his entire career with 865 points, which Giroux has already surpassed. But Lindros won a Hart Trophy (1994-95) and was considered No. 1 at his position for at least several years.
“That, in my opinion, is the reason Lindros got in,’’ Jones said. “Because he was one of the top one or two centermen in the league for an extended period of time.’’
The Hall of Fame selection committee has overlooked players such as Jeremy Roenick (over 500 goals), perhaps because he never won a Cup or was dominant at his position. Could Giroux be passed over for the same reasons?
“The one thing I know a lot of committee members look at is, was he a first- or second-team end of year All-Star?’’ Jones said. “If you look at someone like John LeClair (the last Flyer to be named a first-team All-Star back in 1998), remarkably he’s not a Hall of Famer yet. He was either a first- or second-team All-Star left wing for five years. That’s a pretty incredible thing. But it seems like a long shot that Johnny will get in.’’
Maybe Giroux winds up with a ring and an MVP. You never know.
“That’s going to be the challenge for ‘G’. If you add a Stanley Cup into the mix that could really help sway things in his favor,’’ Jones said. Time, as the cliché goes, will tell. Only five Flyers – Clarke, Barber, Lindros, Bernie Parent and Mark Howe – have made it to the Hall. Will Giroux make it six?