Claude Giroux will not sign a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers during this season, general manager Chuck Fletcher said Thursday.
The 33-year-old forward is entering the final season of the eight-year contract he signed July 5, 2013, and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“I’ve had good conversations with Claude and with Pat Brisson, his agent, and at this point our plan is to play the season out and we’ll talk at the end of the season,” Fletcher said. “We’re both comfortable with that. Claude’s our captain, he’s a great player, and I anticipate that we’ll find a way to continue that relationship going forward.
“But right now I think what we’ll do is we’ll just get through the season and we’ll look at the situation and see where he’s at, see where we’re at and we’ll do what’s best for everybody.”
Giroux, who has been Flyers captain since 2012-13, scored 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 54 games last season, tied with James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek for the Philadelphia lead.
Selected by the Flyers with the No. 22 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Giroux has played his entire 14-season NHL career with Philadelphia. His 585 assists and 943 games are second all-time on the Flyers behind Bobby Clarke (852 assists, 1,144 games), and his 858 points are third, behind Clarke (1,210) and Bill Barber (883).
Giroux has scored 73 points (25 goals, 48 assists) in 85 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and helped Philadelphia reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.
The Flyers signed Sean Couturier to an eight-year, $62 million contract extension ($7.75 million average annual value) on Thursday that begins next season. The center could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“Our goal going into the season is obviously to improve the talent level of our team but also to turn the page, to come to [training] camp and get everybody on the same page and play at a much better level than what we did last year,” Fletcher said. “Certainly if this contract extension was hanging over Sean’s head and the organization’s head, I think it would have been difficult, it could have become a distraction.”
The Flyers (25-23-8) finished sixth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division last season and did not qualify for the postseason. That marked the fifth time in the past nine seasons Philadelphia did not make the playoffs.