Senators start off free agent frenzy with a bang, inking Claude Giroux for three-years
After several months of rumors and speculation that the 34-year-old Hearst, Ontario native was interested in returning to the nations capital once entering free agency, Claude Giroux signed a three-year $19.5 million deal to return to his hometown.
It appeared as soon as the free agent window opened at 12:00 PM ET, that the Senators were going to come to terms with Giroux, as many insiders reported that the two sides were closing in on a deal, and the move materialized minutes after the frenzy started.
Despite his heightened age, Giroux was still produced at a high-rate, recording 21 goals and 65 points in 75 games split between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers. Giroux’s underlying numbers backed up the production, he still is an efficient play driver with great playmaking traits.
Giroux also offers plenty of value in the face-off circle, ranking 3rd among qualified skaters with a 60.3 FOW%, allowing the veteran forward to take draws as Stützle continues to develop in that area.
It’s not unrealistic to expect some regression over the duration of Giroux’s contract due to age, however, with the three-year term significantly minimizing the risk of the acquisition, it made the move a no-brainer for Pierre Dorion and co. Dorion made a quick pitch to the board, and it appeared the decision was deemed as unanimous throughout the organization:
"“Sheldon (Plener) yesterday asked me some really good questions, I said we’re gonna try and make a pitch for Claude tomorrow and he’s asking ‘is he a Hall of Famer?’, I said without a doubt, that was my answer. To add a player of this caliber was for us a no-brainer”"
Adding a player of Giroux’s caliber into the fray makes the Senators top-six arguably as strong as any in the league, here is how the forward group could look at the start of the season:
Brady Tkachuk – Josh Norris – Drake Batherson
Alex DeBrincat – Tim Stützle – Claude Giroux
Alex Formenton – Shane Pinto – Mathieu Joseph
Parker Kelly – Mark Kastelic – Austin Watson
All of a sudden, the Senators boast one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL, and head coach D.J. Smith will have much more talent at his disposal than he’s had in the past. Expect the Senators to try and keep Tkachuk, Norris and Batherson together as they have shown great chemistry together, allowing Tim Stützle to blossom with two proven veterans in DeBrincat and Giroux.
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Connor Brown to Washington
In a move coinciding with the Giroux signing, Brown was dealt to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2nd round pick in 2024.
Brown is owed $4 million in salary for next season, this move allows the Senators to free up space in their budget while also allowing the team to use the asset received in the trade as potential capital to facilitate a trade later on.
The last-remaining domino that remains left to fall is the team’s search for a top-4, right-shot defenceman who will solidify a defensive unit that needs to add quality, and hopefully spells the end of Nikita Zaitsev’s time in Ottawa.
If the Senators find a way to subtract Zaitsev and add bonafide top-4 defender, there shouldn’t be anything stopping this team from competing for a playoff spot at the very least.