It’s been a slow, painful fall for Claude Giroux.
Just a year ago, the Flyers captain was widely considered a top-ten player in the world. Former Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette even referred to him as “the best player in the world,” (maybe that’s part of the problem).
But right now, he’s struggling to make Canada’s Olympic hockey roster.
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen and staff writer Corey Masisak released their projected rosters for the upcoming Sochi games, and Giroux won’t love the results.
Rosen includes 14 forwards on his roster. Giroux is his last man on it.
“Giroux had a finger injury in the summer and did not get off to a good start this season. Like Nash, there were and probably are still doubts about why he would be on the team. But the Philadelphia Flyers captain makes it because he's too good to leave off. He can take over games, play any position and is solid at both ends of the rink. He's also starting to heat up, which bodes well for his chances come late next month.”
Masisak, on the other hand, left Giroux off of his roster completely.
Their arguments against Giroux are warranted. The 25-year old has no Olympic experience and has utterly underperformed the past two seasons. This is a huge concern for both the Flyers and Team Canada, as it seems Giroux’s growth has completed stunted.
Each season from 2008-09 to 2011-12, Giroux’s point totals increased by at least 17 and at most 20. Just two seasons ago, he finished third in the league in points and second in the league in assists. Last season his goals took a hit, but he still managed to average a point per game, good for 14th in the NHL.
This season, Giroux is tied for 90th overall and 43rd amongst Canadian-born players.
Between the injuries, declining numbers and lack of international experience, it isn’t unreasonable to think Giroux might be watching the Winter Games from his couch.
He’s young enough to have a few more chances at cracking the Canadian lineup for future Olympic teams, but with the league considering a shift back to amateur players for international competition, Giroux’s chances at winning a gold medal might be gone forever.
He might just have to settle for a Stanley Cup instead.
See the full list of Team Canada projections here.