Is Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers Ready to be Among the Elite?

Randy HoltContributor INovember 6, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 26:  Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against Derek Roy #9 of the Buffalo Sabres on October 26, 2010 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Sabres 6-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In just his third season in the National Hockey League, Claude Giroux is becoming a name that people are paying attention to.  Already a household name in Philly, Giroux has gotten off to a fast start, as have the Flyers, who are at the top of the Atlantic Division.

While many had anticipated a breakout year in 2009-2010, Giroux's sophomore season, his real skill started to come out in the playoffs when Giroux recorded 21 points, including 10 goals, for a Flyers team that fell just short of a Stanley Cup title.

Not only has Giroux shown that he can put up points, his performance in the playoffs proved just how clutch of a player he can be for this Flyers team.  His 2010 playoffs included a pair of game-winning goals, one of which came in overtime of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks.

This season, Giroux has come in poised and determined to make an impact, on a team that already includes the likes of Mike Richards and Danny Briere.  Several players noted his work ethic in the offseason and it has already translated to success on the ice in the early going.

Giroux is already has seven goals, almost half of his '09-'10 total of 16.  He's near the top of the league in points, with 14, trailing league points leader, Steven Stamkos, by just six.

Even more remarkable, Giroux is proving to be a threat even when the Flyers are down a man.  He's scored three of his seven goals on the penalty kill, playing with a shorthanded artist in Richards.

He's also gotten off to a hot start in the faceoff circle, winning over fifty percent of the draws he's taken.

If last year's postseason and this year's hot start are any indication, Giroux has a bright future as a centerman for an elite squad in Philadelphia.  His skill with the puck, play on special teams, and knack for clutch goals should be a major contribution to a Flyers team looking to get just a little bit further than they did last season.  Giroux's status as a household name could expand to the Pacific by the end of this season.