Vancouver, BC - Despite some discussions to either move up or back in the first round, the Flyers and their staff were happy to stay put and select Claude Giroux
with their first round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
"Claude was in the group of players that we had targeted that would hopefully be available when our pick came up," said Paul Holmgren, the Flyers' assistant general manager. "He is a skilled, intelligent and competitive player, and we're tremendously happy to have him in the organization."
"I just can't believe it. I had no clue I would get taken [this high]. I'm just too happy right now," said Giroux in a conference call with the local media shortly after putting on his Flyers jersey for the first time.
Giroux's stock rose throughout his rookie season with Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Listed at number 72 in the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings, he was listed at 38 on the final list. The TSN network in Canada, which was broadcasting the draft, had him at 22, exactly the position where the Flyers chose him with their first round pick.
Giroux credits his coach at Gatineau, Benoit Groulx, for making him into a player that can excel at both ends of the ice.
"I think my second half was better than my first half," he said. "My coach made me more of a complete player and at the end of the season that I wanted to win so badly I did everything I could."
Comparisons have been made to Doug Gilmour, but Paul Holmgren and the Flyers' staff compare him to another highly skilled player they know all too well that plays up the New Jersey turnpike.
"Our scouts have drawn the comparisons to Scott Gomez," said Holmgren. "He was small in junior but has such tremendous hockey sense and tremendous skill to go along with it."
Giroux is definitely a smaller player, listed at 5'10'' and just 169 pounds. He will more than likely return to his junior club next season and already has an idea in his head about what he has to do to further develop.
"I'm pretty sure I have to get bigger, and I think when I get bigger and faster I'll get to play in a couple of years for sure," he said. "I want to work on my shot and acceleration and that's what I'm doing this summer."
He describes himself as a player that is better at setting up his teammates than scoring goals, despite the fact that he had 39 goals in 69 games. He finished with a total of 103 points as well as 63 penalty minutes.
"I am more of a playmaker," said Giroux. "I think I'm going to feel better if I make a nice pass to my teammates to score in an open net."
Holmgren said that Giroux was the best player available, and the team explored trade options before deciding to keep its pick.
"It never made sense [to make a trade]," he said. "We had a couple of opportunities to move back but Claude was high enough and wanted enough by our organization that we decided not to do that.
"He is the perfect player for the new NHL."NHL Central Scouting on Giroux:
Is a good skater with solid playmaking ability who reads the play and is able to move he puck through traffic with pin-point passing ...has very good hands, handles the puck well in a crowd ...is elusive, creative and patient ... hangs on to the puck creating opportunities ... is quick to jump into openings and carries the puck with confidence ... a clever playmaker who excels killing penalties – he gets many scoring chances ... has very good hockey sense with a quick and accurate wrist shot ... is not considered a physical player but is not afraid of getting involved competing at home and on the road ... is used in all game situations, plays a steady two way game ... does not hesitate to be first on the puck and will take a hit to make a play ... has a way of angling himself along the boards, which allows him to come out with the puck most of the time ... was a walk-on at training camp and signed as a free agent ... was selected to play in the 2006 CHL Top Prospects Game in Ottawa.