Flyers extend Giroux, sign Emery
All he has to do now is what so many of his former big-money teammates failed to achieve -- win a Stanley Cup and play in Philadelphia until the end of his contract.
The Flyers made it official Friday when they signed Giroux to an eight-year extension worth over $64 million. They followed that with a $1.65 million, one-year deal with goalie Ray Emery. They even signed former Edmonton goalie Yann Danis to a one-year, two-way contract.
The flurry of transactions came the same week they agreed to a five-year deal worth $22.5 million with former Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier. Last month, they signed 35-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a $21-million, four-year deal that has pressed them up against the salary cap.
The overhaul of an underachieving team that missed the playoffs is underway.
But the centerpiece was clearly signing the 25-year-old Giroux. A two-time 25-goal scorer, Giroux is the Flyers' top play-making offensive threat. Giroux is coming off a down year in the lockout-shortened season, but that didn't stop the Flyers from offering him the massive extension.
"It's a great honor to be able to have that kind of contract," Giroux said Friday. "It just shows the trust they have in me, and I'm going to do my best to not let them down. A little bit of pressure like that never hurts. I have a lot of good teammates that are playing well, so I'm just pretty excited to move on from this."
Giroux and the Flyers last played in the Stanley Cup finals in 2010. The franchise hasn't won a Cup since 1975.
Giroux wants to win one, and he wants to do it in Philly.
Given the Flyers' recent track record of dealing players shortly after signing loaded contracts, maybe he should rent.
— Mike Richards signed a $69 million, 12-year extension in 2007; was traded to Los Angeles in 2011.
— Jeff Carter signed a $58 million, 11-year extension in 2010; was traded to Columbus in 2011.
— James van Riemsdyk signed a $25.5 million, six-year extension in 2011; was traded to Toronto in 2012.
— Ilya Bryzgalov signed a $51 million, nine year contract in 2011; was bought out in June with seven years left on the deal.
That's a lot of talent that never got to realize its true potential in Philadelphia.
Carter and Richards were reunited with the Kings and won a Stanley Cup. Emery, who played for the Flyers in 2009-10, went 17-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average for the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in 2013.
Watching his former teammates hoist the Cup has only fueled Giroux.
"It's tough to see them go far like that," he said. "But at the same time, any time you play with a guy and you get along with him, you're happy for him that he gets there. Because it's not easy to go to the finals. It's just a motivation to want more, and to just want to win the Cup."
Giroux earned the "best in the world" moniker from Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, after posting six goals and eight assists in a 2012 playoff series against Pittsburgh.
But his production tailed off last season. He was hurt playing overseas during the lockout and finished with only 13 goals and 48 points with the Flyers.
Overall, he has 291 points (91 goals, 200 assists) in 333 career games spread over six seasons in Philadelphia. The Flyers captain still has one more year left on his three-year contract before the extension kicks in.
"He's an outstanding player and the leader of our team," Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko said.
Unlike so many others, Luukko expected Giroux to play out his contract in Philadelphia.
"You have to look at each player case by case," he said. "The reason we signed Claude for such a long period is because we want him to stay here, we want him to be comfortable and we want him to lead us to the ultimate prize. I'm very confident Claude will be here."
He'll play in front of a new tandem in net. With Bryzgalov gone, the Flyers turn to Emery and Steve Mason. Mason, the NHL's rookie of the year in 2008-09, was 4-2 with a 1.90 GAA after he was acquired from Columbus.
Emery went 16-11-1 in his lone season with the Flyers before he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in his right hip and underwent surgery to repair the condition. After nearly a year of recovery and rehabilitation, Emery signed with the Anaheim Ducks in February of 2011.
He had two solid seasons in Chicago and teamed last season with Corey Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltending combo of the team that allowed the fewest goals in the league.
"I feel the writing was on the wall in Chicago," Emery said. "In Philadelphia, it would be a new situation for both me and Steve. It's a chance to maybe play more games than I would have in Chicago. It's a great team and it's a situation that I knew from the last time I was there that I was really comfortable."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said he's happy to have two good goalies and there was no set No. 1 entering training camp.
"They're both good guys and I think they'll help us win a lot of hockey games," Holmgren said.
The Flyers aren't finished. Holmgren said the team was in talks with forward Simon Gagne, and the team put the finishing touches on their deal with Lecavalier. Holmgren said Lecavalier moved to "the top of our list" when they realized he was on the open market once Tampa Bay bought him out.
He'll earn $6 million each of the next seasons, $4.5 million in 2015-16, and $3 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18. A person familiar with Lecavalier's contract provided those figures to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Flyers have not revealed those terms since agreeing to sign him on Tuesday.
"Growing up, I watched him play a lot," Giroux said. "I think he's going to be a player the Flyers fans are going to enjoy watching. He's an intense guy, he goes to the corners and he plays pretty rough. And obviously he puts the puck in the net. It's great to have him.
"I was talking to some of the guys and everybody's pretty pumped to have him."