Claude Giroux: The Best Player in the NHL?

Shawn McGrathContributor IIDecember 21, 2011

Vitale #46 of the Pittsburgh Penguins covers Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers in an NHL hockey game at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

This past off-season, the Flyers thought well enough of Claude Giroux to get rid of captain Mike Richards and leading scorer Jeff Carter. The Philadelphia Flyers were passing the torch to Claude Giroux in the most literal sense. 

And boy, did he take it and run.

Wednesday night, Claude Giroux came back from his concussion in a big way.

Giroux was a part of every Flyers goal. He tallied one goal himself and capped off his night with three helpers. He managed to do all of that with just over fifteen minutes of playing time.

Giroux vaulted himself right back into the league lead with points; he currently has 43. The next-closest man is Phil Kessel, with 39. Keep in mind, Giroux just sat on the bench for four games.

With Sidney Crosby out indefinitely with reoccurring concussion symptoms, is Claude Giroux now the best player in the NHL?

I think he is.

Giroux put up a career-high 76 points last year and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. Giroux's play has steadily improved since his introduction into the league in 2007.

Not only has he been scoring on the ice, but he has consistently been on the ice. In the last two years he has played all 82 games. Perhaps this is why Giroux's head injury was so concerning to Flyers fans. 

Even with the NHL's crackdown on preventable concussions, multiple stars have been out of the lineup recently. The Carolina Hurricanes lost their young star, Jeff Skinner, and the Senators have lost their leading scorer in Milan Michalek. 

It's good to see Claude Giroux back at full speed. Now, sit back and enjoy the ride.