In sports, as in life, change is inevitable.
A player can be the face of a franchise one day, a performer being celebrated for his 1,000th game in the same, and the next day – literally – he can be in Florida with a younger yet still redheaded winger taking his place on the depth chart.
While the sight of Claude Giroux Jerseys will forever pepper the stands at the Wells Fargo Center, the man himself won’t take the ice off of South Broad again until, well, we don’t really know, and fans in Philly will now have to turn their attention to a new native of Ontario and hope he, too, can be a foundational building block for years to come.
Owen Tippett brings a mix of upside and experience to the Philadelphia Flyers.
At 23-years-old, Owen Tippett is still technically more of a prospect than an established player.
The 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft who played his amateur hockey for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, Tippett really broke into the Florida Panthers’ regular forwards rotation in 2020-21, where he put up 18 points in 45 games in an ATOI of 11:29. Over his half-season on the ice with the big club, Tippet scored seven goals on 86 shots, recorded 59 hits, and ended the season even with 18 takeaways versus 18 giveaways.
Is that elite production? Eh, not really, but for a then-22-year-old wing on a team that finished out the year with 79 points and a first-round showdown against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs, it’s not too shabby either.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 season, and Tippett again found himself a consistent bottom-six contributor for the very good Panthers, but with the team going all-in on contention and a trade for Ben Chiarot already on the books, the 23-year-old’s future was deemed expendable versus the upgrade of landing players like Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov, and our old pal Robert Hagg – via a separate trade – in the here and now.
With a seeming disinterest in drafting an impact player any time soon, the call was made, and now, Tippett will call Philadelphia home for the foreseeable future.
Considered one of the better shooters in his draft class according to NHL.com’s Mark Stepneski, Tippett immediately joined the Flyers’ rotation as a middle-six right-winger, earning 19 shifts over 14:38 minutes of action in his first game in South Philly. While he didn’t get a puck through the cylinder in Game 1, he did earn the second-most PPTOI of any player on the team behind only the star of the game, Kevin Hayes, and looked fairly comfortable despite the relative newness of his situation.
Who knows, maybe this time next week, we’ll be talking about Tippett’s first goal, first game-winner, or even his first shootout victory; a lot of firsts are in Tippett’s future, my friends.
Will Owen Tippett ever truly be able to fill Claude Giroux’s skates? No, probably not, but frankly, he doesn’t have to be. If the Peterborough, Ontario native can just keep his head down, play his game, and develop into the player many projected coming into the NHL, Philadelphia Flyers fans will accept him as one of their own regardless of which team drafted him.