Give Paul Holmgren credit. The Flyers' GM moved swiftly and signed superstar-in-the-making Claude Giroux to a lucrative contract _ but one that won't break the bank.
Giroux, a 22-year-old center who leads the Flyers with seven goals and 14 points, signed a three-year deal Monday for $11.25 million. That's an average cap hit of $3.75 million per season.
That seems like a good deal all around for both sides. Giroux will have an even bigger pay day down the road, but for now, he is more than comfortable _ and the Flyers have a rising star who figures to be the face of the franchise for many years.
As reported in The Inquirer earlier in the week, the Flyers opened talks with Giroux's agent, Larry Kelly, and did not want to wait until he became a restricted free agent on July 1.
Giroux is having a breakout year and he probably would have commanded more money if he had waited.
The Flyers also have had talks with the agents for Jeff Carter and Ville Leino. Carter can become a RFA after the season, while Leino can become an untrestricted free agent.
Giroux was drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft. He was selected No. 22 overall _ when he chose him, then-GM Bob Clarke temporarily forgot his name.
The Ontario native has developed quicker than many of the players selected ahead of him that season.
That was a deep draft for centers, including Jordan Staal (No. 2 overall), Jonathan Toews (No. 3 overall), Nicklas Backstom (No. 4 overall), Phil Kessel (No. 5 overall), Derick Brassard (No. 6 overall) and Peter Mueller (No. 8 overall).
Here is how Giroux's deal compares to those players' latest contracts:
Giroux (22 years old): three years for $11.25 million; cap hit: $3.75 million per year.
Staal (22 years old): four years for $16 million; cap hit: $4 million per year.
Toews (22 years old): five years for $31.5 million; cap hit: $6.3 million per year.
Backstrom (22 years old): 10 years for $67 million; cap hit: $6.7 million per year.
Kessel (23 years old): five years for $27 million; cap hit: $5.4 million per year.
Brassard (23 years old): four years for $12.8 million; cap hit: $3.2 million per year.
Mueller (22 years old): two years for $4 million; cap hit: $2 million per year.
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Adirondack Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert was fired and replaced by John Paddock on an interim basis. The Phantoms are the Flyers' AHL affiliate. Adirondack (2-10-1) has the worst record in the 30-team AHL, and it is 0-8-1 in its last nine games.
GM Paul Holmgren said the recent dismissal of Phantoms forward Pat Maroon and Gilbert's firing were unrelated.
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Speedy winger Eric Wellwood, 20, was returned to the Phantoms. Based on his strong performances with the Flyers, he will be back. Wellwood had an assist and was plus-1 in three games with the Flyers.