Claude Giroux: 10 Reasons Why He Is the Next Flyers and NHL Superstar

Jason Sapunka@moreSapunkaCorrespondent IINovember 15, 2011

Claude Giroux: 10 Reasons Why He Is the Next Flyers and NHL Superstar

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    Bobby Clarke will never forget the name again.

    Then the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, Clarke momentarily forgot the name of the team's first-round draft pick while onstage in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. "Roo" went 17th overall.

    Giroux made his NHL debut in February 2008, playing in two games that season. He spent most of the year in the QMJHL.

    Next, in the 2008-09 season, Giroux appeared in 33 games for the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms before being called up for the last 42 games with the Flyers. He scored 27 points. In 2009-10, he scored 47 points in his first full season, as a 22-year-old forward.

    Now, after leading the team with 76 points last season, Giroux finds himself among the NHL's scoring leaders as a bona fide NHL superstar. He has 22 points in 17 games, on pace for 106 points over 82 games.

    Flyers fans can rejoice. This time, your young, promising superstar is really going to come through.

He Can Shoot

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    Of Giroux's 169 NHL points, 59 are goals. Though he is more likely to be the man setting up goals than finishing them, it is not because of a lack of ability to snipe the puck into the net.

    If the Flyers need a goal, they can count on Giroux.

    This video shows Giroux ripping a wrist shot off the post and into the net.

He's Deadly on the Breakaway

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    For goalies, there aren't many more anxiety-causing sights than seeing an elite NHL forward skating down alone on a breakaway.

    Certain offensive players in the league have an arsenal of dekes that just aren't capable of being prepared for.

    Giroux is quickly finding himself enter that realm of players that goalies never want to see alone.

    His ability to deke a goalie down and finish the business is among the NHL's best.

He Can Deke Past Anybody

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    Giroux's incredible puckhandling and deking skills are useful beyond those times when he is sent into the zone alone or attempting to put a shootout winner in the net. The ability to fool defensemen is also helpful for creating space in the offensive zone.

    Giroux can pull the opposition out of position and capitalize with his passing or shooting abilities.

He Can Set Up Goals

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    Giroux's ability to deke and score is accompanied by an uncanny ability to create plays that defensemen are really powerless to defend. If there's an opening, Giroux will find it.

    This slide's featured video shows Giroux threading a pass directly to the stick of Jaromir Jagr, who finished the play.

He Has Excellent Puck Control

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    Beyond fancy moves that create offensive opportunities, puckhandling skills are useful for the simple purpose of maintaining possession.

    Defensive players are constantly attacking the puck carrier, and when a deke is not possible or other players unable to accept a pass, simply maintaining possession is the best offensive opportunity left at that point.

    In the waning minutes of Philadelphia's historic comeback against the Boston Bruins in the 2010 playoffs, Giroux single-handedly took 20 seconds off the clock due to his ability to control the puck.

He Can Play Well Defensively

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    In addition to the ridiculously impressive collection of offensive abilities Giroux displays, he also has great defensive prowess.

    Giroux's ability to break up plays earned him a regular spot on the penalty kill. Paired with Mike Richards last season, Giroux led the NHL with four short-handed assists. Adding three goals to that total put him one behind Franz Nielson for the league lead in short-handed points.

    Check out this slide's video, as Giroux lifts the stick of Derek Stepan. After making the New York Rangers' forward lose the puck, Giroux took it down the ice and set up Richards for a goal.

He Can Hit

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    Giroux is a 175-pound forward with shooting, deking and passing skills who can play well defensively. For most players, that would be sufficient. Expecting the relatively small player to be physical would be asking too much.

    But he does.

    Despite his small frame, Giroux finds a way be an effective checker when the right opportunities present themselves. A highlight reel of the 20 best Flyers hits from last season prominently features Giroux.

He's a Clutch Player

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    Name all the Philadelphia Flyers who have scored an overtime winner in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Of course, there was the most famous goal of franchise legend Bobby Clarke's career, that turned the tide of the 1974 series.

    And then...

    There was Claude Giroux, in 2010, giving the Flyers their first win the Stanley Cup Finals since J.J. Daigneault rocked the Spectrum in 1987.

    Among memorable heroic moments in Flyers history sits a 23-year-old fist-pumping along the Wachovia Center's sideboards.

    Additionally, Giroux was one of two Flyers to score in the shootout against the New York Rangers during that regular season's final game. His and Briere's tallies, along with Brian Boucher's goaltending, sent the Flyers to the playoffs.

    In just his first full NHL season, Giroux netted two of the franchise's most memorable goals. He can get the job done when it matters the most.

He Has the Right Mindset

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    Though Giroux's accolades are certainly beginning to add up, the young star has not let the praise go to his head.

    He does not carry a sense of entitlement about him on the ice; he does not complain to referees, expect special treatment for his abilities like certain young stars have done recently. He is not full of himself and does not showboat.

    Giroux just wants to do his job.

    He does not appear to have potential off-ice issues that cause frustration with the media, like a recent promising young Flyers' fan favorite had.

    Giroux has veteran Danny Briere as a roommate. Off the ice, the young Giroux learns from a natural leader on how to carry himself as a professional. On the ice, Giroux has the benefit of being mentored by another incredibly talented teammate.

    His linemate Jaromir Jagr is the NHL's all-time active scoring leader. The five-time Art Ross winner will help Giroux develop even further.

He's Still Improving

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    If the current Claude Giroux is a player who has reached his full potential, Flyers fans have an all-around player who is one of the NHL's best and is on pace for more than 100 points this season.

    Luckily for Philadelphia, Giroux is still getting better. This will be just his third full NHL season. Players rarely reach their full potential during season three.

    Take a look at his linemate, for example. Jagr scored 57, 69 and 94 points in his first three seasons. (Giroux has scored 47, 76, and is now on pace for 106).

    Jagr went on to score more than 100 points five times in his career, including a high mark of 149. No player may be able to score over 140 points in today's game, but Giroux may very well be the next Flyer to hit the 100-mark. If he does, he would be the sixth player in franchise history to do so.