"A little bit of pressure like that never hurts," Giroux said. "It's a great honor to be able to have that kind of contract. Five years ago, I was just trying to get a spot in the NHL and make sure I get as much ice time as I can, to prove what I can do.
"I just go out there and play hockey. I never really got to thinking about that [contract] stuff. I just love playing the game. It's not something I was worried about."
Still, for any superstar, heading into the final year of your modest contract without a new deal can be unnerving. That's why Giroux and Holmgren wanted to nail something down, even after a disappointing season.
"Claude is a high-quality young man that over the past few years has blossomed into our best players and one of the top players in the league," Holmgren said in a statement. "We look forward to more and better things to come from Claude as we try to achieve our goal of becoming a championship team."
Giroux was earning an average of $3.75 million in his current deal. His new pact will kick in for 2014-15 at an average of $8.275 million, making him the fifth-highest paid player in the NHL, based on salary-cap hit. Only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry have a higher cap hit. His contract expires in 2022, when Giroux will be 34.
"It just shows the trust they have in me," Giroux said. "We wanted to make sure we get this out of the way. From now on, we can start focusing on the right thing. I'm going to do my best to not let them down."
Down on Gagne
Paul Holmgren spoke with Simon Gagne's agent, Bob Sauve, early yesterday before Gagne hit the free-agent market. They were set to speak again yesterday afternoon, but the Flyers do not appear close to signing to veteran winger.
"I haven't talked to him in a while," Holmgren said last night of Gagne's agent. "It's pretty difficult to say right now. We don't have a lot of cap space."
Gagne, 33, was one of the Flyers' most productive forwards to close out last season. He is on the record as saying he would take a below-market salary to remain in Philadelphia.
The Flyers reportedly had interest in two players who signed elsewhere: defenseman Rob Scuderi and forward Matt Hendricks. Scuderi, 34, returned to Pittsburgh on a 4-year deal worth $3.34 million per season. He was a key cog in the 2009 Stanley Cup win, before heading to Los Angeles as a free agent, where he won in 2011.
Hendricks, 32, netted $1.85 million per year for the next 4 years from Nashville. The Flyers were interested having the special-teams grinder join their team, possibly because there were rumblings throughout the French media in Canada that Holmgren was shopping Max Talbot.
Interestingly, signing Scuderi would have pushed the Flyers north of $31 million on defense alone next season on the $64.3 million cap. Holmgren has been rumored to be looking to dump defensive salary for weeks now, yet adding Scuderi would have assured it.
Vincent Lecavalier's 5-year, $22.5 million deal ($4.5 million per season) was signed and registered yesterday. He will discuss coming to Philadelphia for the first time in a conference call with reporters this morning. Paul Holmgren said the Flyers were "very aggressive" with Lecavalier. Holmgren, coach Peter Laviolette and Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko met with Lecavalier, his brother and his agent in New York on June 29. Lecavalier visited Philadelphia with his wife before signing the deal, his wife giving thumbs-up on the living situation . . . The Flyers signed veteran goaltender Yann Danis, 32, to a two-way deal. He likely will start for the Phantoms next season in conjunction with Cal Heeter.