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Signing Claude Giroux would be a pipe dream for the Maple Leafs, but might make sense

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Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Barden
4 months ago
The best part of this time around the draft and free agency is the rumours surrounding the Maple Leafs and other teams throughout the NHL.
Similar to Lou Lamoriello, Toronto GM Kyle Dubas has always been good at keeping his circle close — not allowing anything to seep out to the media. It might happen at some points, however, it’s never any huge trades or signings. If there is the chance it occurs, it’s always the insiders reporting it right as it happens.
There’s four days until the draft which means things are beginning to heat up. The rumour mill has begun spinning for the first time since the trade deadline and it’s off to a hot start.
In the final written 32 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discusses a number of doings sorrounding the Maple Leafs and even drops an “irresponsible whopper of a long-shot prediction” too.
“They (Maple Leafs) take a look at (Claude) Giroux, but it means someone big goes.” —Friedman
Now, there were also a few other little tidbits in this article — most of which we already knew of. The Maple Leafs are still struggling to sign Jack Campbell, but deadlines might change how that goes. Rasmus Sandin’s situation remains both interesting and tricky, according to Friedman.
He even drops news that Toronto has interviewed Edmonton Oilers goalie development coach Sylvain Rodrigue for their goalie coach gig. That could be an interesting development to watch for in the future.
I do want to circle back on Giroux, though, because wow. This was totally out of left field for me. Now, I understand this is just speculation but there’s always a reason for an Insider to play the guessing game like that. They don’t do it just for fun — or maybe they do — who knows.
When I think of the Maple Leafs landing Giroux, I think of the player that needs to be traded for it to happen. There will evidently be a player who’ll be sent out because the 34-year-old will demand a lot of money this summer. His last contract, signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, was eight years with an AAV of $8.275 million.
Does Giroux get that again? No. But, I do think it’ll be expensive enough where Toronto would have to trade a big piece to bring him in.
As many of you remember, the 34-year-old was sent to Florida at the trade deadline. There, Giroux spent time on the Panthers’ top line, scoring 23 points over 18 games prior to the post-season. In the playoffs, he put up eight points in the ten games Florida played.
Giroux, even though he’s on the other side of 30, still has very good underlying numbers in the NHL. And while signing him could make sense for the Maple Leafs, the age is what scares me most.
At 34-years-old, he’s going to want term and when I remember back to someone older getting term, I think of Patrick Marleau and his mess of a contract. This situation is different because Giroux is younger than Marleau was and he’s a better player, but it still haunts me.
(If you want to be reminded of the deal, Lamoriello signed Marleau to a three-year deal with an AAV of $6.25 million after he finished with 46 points in 82 games in San Jose. Man, that contract sucked.)
Back to Giroux — if there’s any chance Toronto signs him this summer, there will be a player with a significant contract moved out. Playing the guessing game, I’d say that player would be William Nylander. The reason being because his AAV would likely be around the same ballpark as Giroux’s new deal. (Nylander makes $6.962 million a year for the next two seasons.)
I mean, the Maple Leafs could also ask John Tavares to waive his no-move clause, but I don’t see that happening.
Nylander isn’t just the perfect fit because of his AAV. He also makes the most sense because Toronto isn’t going to bring Giroux in just to move Nylander down to the third line. If there was a situation where that actually happened, well, I’d say Dubas is a genius.
Maybe they move Nylander to the left-wing? There’s always that option too. Again though, Toronto has to move money out for this to work and the only other player to move (if you keep Nylander) would be Jake Muzzin plus another small contract. I don’t know what the chances of that would be. Likely slim.
Getting Muzzin’s contract off the books would likely require putting in a bit of a sweetener and I don’t know who that might be. Plus, you’d have to get the 33-year-old to waive his no-trade clause. Either way, I’m not the biggest fan of this option.
There’d be multiple teams lining up if the Maple Leafs said they’re making Nylander available for trade. You could get a great haul in return for him too. But Toronto would have to be certain that Giroux is coming for that to happen.
(Just remember that Dubas said as long as he’s GM in Toronto, he wouldn’t trade Nylander. Dubas keeps his word a fair bit, but I believe he would re-think that if this scenario came about.)
Nonetheless, this is an interesting move if the Maple Leafs went down that road. It provides a shake up that some fans have wanted while also keeping the core intact. You send a player off for future assets and then go out and sign a player who still can bring great value.
The only thing that still shakes me is the age. Do you think this would be a good idea for Toronto this summer?
(Chart in article via Evolving-Hockey.com & Contract values via PuckPedia.com)

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