Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren locked up his franchise player Friday with the signing of captain Claude Giroux to an eight-year contract extension.
Though terms of the deal were not released, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com and TSN reported the contract would have an average annual value of $8.275 million. The new deal, which Giroux said was finalized Wednesday morning with his agent, Pat Brisson, will start at the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
"We've been talking about [a contract extension] since back in late May," Holmgren said. "We think the world of Claude. We think he's one of the top players in our game. To have him go into this season on the last year of his current deal, it's risky for both sides. I think Claude is going to have a great year. It's a huge commitment on our part but we believe Claude is worthy of it. He's not only our best player, he's one of the top guys in the game in our opinion and we're happy to have it done and get it put to bed and we can all move forward now."
Giroux, 25, will play the final season of his current three-year contract in 2013-14 and will make $3.75 million. Giroux had 48 points in 48 games in 2012-13, following a season when he finished third in the League with 93 points in 77 games and followed with 17 points in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"One thing [Holmgren] wanted to do was make sure we got this out of the way, so now we can start focusing on the right thing, so I'm glad it's done with," Giroux said during a conference call. "To be able to play with this organization has been great; the players are unbelievable and the fans are always expecting great things, so knowing I'll be a part of it is great."
Giroux said he and his teammates are motivated to rebound after failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2012-13 for the first time in six seasons.
"It's always tough to watch games [on television] when you're done because you always want to be there, especially when you have experienced a taste of the Stanley Cup Final before," Giroux said. "It's something the guys will use as motivation; winning the Cup is the one thing we think about.
"Last year was a tough season as a team, but we're going to learn from our mistakes. We're a young team with some new players, so everyone is excited about that."
A 2006 first-round draft pick (No. 22) of the Flyers, Giroux has 91 goals and 200 assists in 333 regular-season games, all with Philadelphia. Earlier this week, the Flyers agreed on a five-year contract with forward Vincent Lecavalier worth $22.5 million. The team used compliance buyouts on forward Danny Briere and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Giroux was asked about Lecavalier and what the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain might be able to bring to Philadelphia.
"I don't know him personally, but I heard a lot of good things about him," Giroux said. "Growing up, I've been watching him play a lot and he's going to be a player that Flyer fans will enjoy. He's an intense guy and he goes into the corners and can obviously put the puck in the net.
"I've been talking to some of the guys and everybody's pretty pumped up to have him [on the team]."
It was sometime during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Flyers coach Peter Laviolette began to realize how special a player Giroux really was. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final that year only to lose a six-game series to the Chicago Blackhawks.
In his second playoff season, Giroux finished third on the team with 21 points, including 10 goals, in 23 games. In Laviolette's mind, it was a performance that catapulted him into the company of the elite forwards in the NHL.
"I would say that he's not among those second-tier players anymore," Laviolette said prior to the 2010-11 season. "He's somebody we count on to play in every situation and he's proving himself to be a clutch player."
Giroux has been training with Tony Greco, considered one of Canada's leading fitness specialists, during the offseason. He has trained with Greco the past eight years.
"I just try and go out there and play hockey," Giroux said. "I love to play the game. When I entered the league five years ago, I was just trying to get a spot in the NHL and make sure I got as much ice time as I could to show what I could do. A lot of credit goes to our coaching staff and the management to have that trust in me."
Does he feel there's any pressure on him now that he's received a new contract extension?
"I'm going to do the best I can to not let them down," Giroux said. "A little pressure never hurts, but I have a lot of good teammates that are playing well. I'm excited to move on from this now."