By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Claude Giroux will try to win his first Stanley Cup in Florida.
The Philadelphia Flyers have traded Giroux after he played his 1,000th career game with the franchise to the Florida Panthers, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Saturday because the trade had not been announced.
The move strengthens Florida’s status as a Stanley Cup contender, giving Aleksander Barkov an elite linemate and one of the best faceoff aces in the NHL. The Panthers earlier in the week traded a first-round pick and more for Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot.
Giroux was traded after he played his 1,000th game with the Flyers and was feted Thursday with a game in his honor. Drafted in the first round in 2006, Giroux made his Philadelphia debut on Feb. 19, 2008, and has played his entire career with the Flyers. He has 900 career points and is eighth on the Flyers’ career list with 291 goals. He helped the Flyers reach the 2010 Stanley Cup finals and was awarded the All-Star MVP this season.
The Flyers also acquired forward Owen Tippett and draft picks.
Giroux had to waive his no-movement clause that was part of his $66.2 million, eight-year contract.
He joined Hall of Famer and two-time Stanley Cup champion Bobby Clarke as the only players to reach 1,000 games entirely with the Flyers. Giroux was named captain on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Flyers have only 19 wins and are tied for last place in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s the second significant trade for Florida as the deadline nears, coming after the Panthers landed Chiarot.
The defenseman is expected to join Florida this coming week, when the Panthers play in Montreal. That will likely also be Giroux’s debut game with his new club.
It’s yet another clear sign Florida is all-in on finally reversing its fortunes. The Panthers went to the Stanley Cup final in 1996, the franchise’s third season.
They haven’t won a playoff series since, cycling through more than a dozen coaches, going from one rebuild to another, often playing before an empty arena and dogged by rumors for years that they would be leaving Florida.
But this is as good as it has ever been for the Panthers, who have the second-best record in the NHL entering Saturday, have a Hart Trophy contender in Jonathan Huberdeau, a half-dozen 20-goal scorers this season already and an elite player in Barkov locked up for seven more years.
Plus, the Panthers have survived a ton of adversity this season.
The team watched Joel Quenneville step down as coach seven unbeaten games into the season as part of the fallout from the Chicago Blackhawks’ scandal involving an abused player — something that happened when Quenneville coached there more than a decade ago. And on Friday, the team watched as top defenseman Aaron Ekblad crawled to the bench in agony after enduring a lower-leg injury in Anaheim. But by night’s end the team already had enough information to believe Ekblad dodged the sort of significant injury that likely would have ended his season and put a huge dent in Florida’s title hopes.
The Flyers have long been out of championship contention. But Giroux’s 1,000th game was a rare occasion to celebrate in Philadelphia. Clarke presented Giroux with the silver stick to mark the occasion, and he was given a Rolex watch by his teammates and a crystal by the NHL. Giroux also has played in 85 career playoff games for Philadelphia.
“The fans and the organization, my teammates have been so good to me for so many years and that’s one of the reasons it was pretty emotional after the game,” Giroux said.
AP Sports Writers Stephen Whyno and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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