The Senators were the lucky team who was able to add their hometown hero, Claude Giroux. The 35 year old showed no signs of regression with the Sens and had one of his best seasons in recent memory. I will break down exactly what it is that makes Giroux so effective and how he has elevated the play of the young Senators.
Giroux was a mainstay on the teams first line alongside Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk. The trio found chemistry quickly after being assembled and all three players had monster years for the Sens. Giroux tallied a total of 35 goals and 44 assists for 79pts in 82 games.
As a Sens fan who has been watching 90% of games since the 2015-2016 season, I’m not sure there has been a forward I have seen play for the team with a higher hockey iq then Claude Giroux. When you watch Giroux play hockey, everything just looks so simple to him. When the puck is on the stick of Giroux, you get a feeling of relief and confidence that he will make the right play regardless of whether or not he is under pressure. This kind of intangible skill is going to pay dividends in terms of young talent development for the Senators as well. Giroux is almost a second coach out there, and has taken the time to teach the tricks of the trades to young Senators like Norris, Stützle and Pinto (especially in the face off dot). This uncanny intelligence is without a doubt the reason he has had so much success even later in his career, while the legs may slow down, the brain does not.
Elite Playmaking Ability
Even though the winger scored 35 goals this season (a career high) he is known around the league as a playmaker who is elite at setting up his line mates for goals. This ability was on full display this season with Claude showcasing his elite vision and ability to find players all over the ice. The area where I noticed this skill the most was on the power play. The second unit for the Senators seemed to be out of sync sometimes and the players for whatever reason wouldn’t be clicking. This was not the case with Giroux however. Giroux showed that he could simply take over a power play and almost pass the puck into the net because of how deceptive of a player he is. Shane Pinto was a primary beneficiary of this as he was set up in the bumper position for a number of set-ups courtesy of Claude.
Along with his line mate and Tkaptain Brady Tkachuk, Claude was looked at to be a leader of the team, and a guide to the young players who have just gotten their feet wet at the NHL level. The experience and attitude Giroux brought to the team is immeasurably valuable and will help each and every Senator understand what it takes to be truly great at this level. While not being the loudest guy in the room, Giroux sure knew how to lead by example on the ice. He is a competitor who holds himself to an incredibly high standard, and he expects his teammates to hold themselves to the same level. If he believes somebody can give more to the team, he will undoubtably let them know. But he is also the first person to tell someone to move on from a mistake, or to pick their chin up if they have made a tough play.
Goal Scoring Breakout
Well, it’s not very often that you see a 35 year old set a career high in goal scoring, but it’s also not very often that a player like Claude Giroux comes around. This season, Giroux showed me that he has the ability to score in all different ways. Whether he was flipping in a puck from centre ice against Logan Thompson, toe dragging around leafs defenders before ripping it top shelf, or using his famous backhand to sharp cut forehand move against the Kings, Giroux found a way to get it done. This was not something I had expected from Giroux, I was under the assumption he would be an assist machine and could chip in 20-25 goals. I should have never underestimated the man’s abilities on the ice, and I never will again!
Expectations For 2023/2024
This is the first member of the team who is not a piece of the “young” or “upcoming” core. Giroux is in the latter stages of his career and while he is yet to show much regression, he has likely shown his ceiling to the team. Do not get it twisted however, if Giroux is able to contribute another 70 point season, I will be ecstatic and not entirely shocked. However I do believe that there is no way to outrace Father Time and if Giroux is to play a full 82 game season, I will be looking for him to score between 25-30 goals and 60-70 points. I believe in the work ethic of Giroux to come into camp in incredible shape which is why I still believe he will be an elite contributor to this team even at the age of 36.