Declaring your team's most important player is not a simple thing. It's not always the most valuable guy or the highest points producer. It is the player who makes your team go, the one you can't afford to lose, even if all that he contributes can't be measured by fancy stats.
Flyers' Most Important Player: Claude Giroux, center
The 27-year-old is one of the most dynamic players in the league and is just one season removed from an impressive 2013-14 campaign (28 goals, 86 points) that resulted in a Hart Trophy nomination for the Hearst, Ontario, native. And this past season wasn’t so bad, either. Giroux finished with 25 goals and 73 points, second to Voracek.
Before Voracek's breakout season, however, Giroux led the Flyers in scoring for four consecutive seasons. He has scored 25 or more goals in each of the past four full-length seasons (not counting the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season) and has been remarkably durable as well. Giroux has appeared in all but one NHL game the past three seasons, and all but six games since the start of the 2009-10 season.
He is a critical component to the Flyers’ power-play unit, tying Wayne Simmonds last season for the team lead with 14 goals. Giroux is also the best faceoff man among the Flyers’ centers, finishing last season with an impressive 56.6 percent success rate.
Giroux was thrust into a leadership role early in his career -- he was named the Flyers' captain at age 25 -- and the job has not come without its bumps. In his first full season as captain, coach Peter Laviolette was fired after three games. Then it was Laviolette's replacement, Craig Berube, on the chopping block, taking the fall for the team’s sixth-place finish in the Metropolitan Division this past season.
Giroux has learned along the way what his role entails while acknowledging the pressure that creates. And he’s always been the first to admit when he needs to be better. His teammates will need his best this season, especially with first-year NHL coach Dave Hakstol taking the reins in Philly and the Flyers desperate to get back to the playoffs.
Voracek’s emergence as a star in his own right has taken some of the heat off Giroux to perform, but he is still the team’s most important player night in and night out.