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Ottawa Levels Up With Claude Giroux Signing

The Senators have been stockpiling great young forwards for a few years; now they bring in a veteran to pull the top six - and the team - together.
Claude Giroux

The Ottawa Senators made their second big splash this month, kicking off free agency by bringing in former Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who finished the past season with the Florida Panthers.

After acquiring scoring winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago, the Senators now bring in a top-line veteran who can help shepherd a still-young lineup for the next three seasons.

There was plenty of speculation attaching Giroux to Ottawa, a town he has lived in before (he also played his junior hockey just across the Quebec-Ontario border with the Gatineau Olympiques). From the outside, it felt like the timing was slightly off: The Senators still looked like a rebuilding squad that would need a few more years before they would be a serious enough outfit for Giroux, who has yet to win a Stanley Cup in his very solid career.

But with the acquisition of DeBrincat, a 40-goal scorer who is in his prime at just 24 years old, all of a sudden Senators fans can dream of a top line featuring Giroux and power forward Brady Tkachuk with the erstwhile Hawks star on the other side. That's pretty hot if they can all find chemistry together. Toss in the likes of Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson and Shane Pinto - all young forwards still on the rise - and Ottawa has the makings of a very dangerous top six.

The added bonus of Giroux is his versatility. True, he has usually been a center in his career, but he also lined up on the wing with Sean Couturier in Philadelphia and a couple different pivots in Florida. Hypothetically, the Sens could also put him on the wing with either Norris or Pinto if they wanted to go that route. And while Giroux may not be the 100-point player he once was, it's noteworthy that he did put up 23 points in 18 games with the Panthers this past season after his deadline deal to Florida.

On top of where he plays, perhaps one of the most important skills that Giroux adds to Ottawa is leadership. Tkachuk is a young captain and very capable, but it never hurts to have a guy like Giroux in the room; someone who has been through a lot of wars in his day and been to a Cup final (back in 2010 with the Flyers).

Now the question is one of expectations. On top of DeBrincat and Giroux, the Sens recently added a new starting goalie in Cam Talbot and while the lineup may not be ready to contend with divisional rivals such as Tampa Bay, Florida and Toronto, they should certainly now be in the mix for a fourth playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Boston is banged up, while Detroit and Buffalo are very much in the same boat as Ottawa as teams on the ascent in their rebuilds and looking to take the next step.

Nothing is guaranteed and the Senators still have to put it all together on the ice (and improve the defense corps), but signing Giroux was a big statement for the franchise.

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