After a poor preseason with the Flyers in the 2008, he was assigned to the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms. After being named the AHL’s player of the month in December that year, he was called up to the big club and hasn’t left since.
Last year he finished as the obvious MVP of the 2010 NHL playoffs for Philly’s squad by racking up 21 points. In fact, the Flyers wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs if he hadn’t scored the winning goal in a shootout vs. the New York Rangers helping them sneak into the playoffs on the last game of the regular season.
Claude doesn’t only score beautiful goals, but he scores goals when his team needs them the most. He scored the winning goal in overtime of game 3 in the Stanley Cup finals vs. Chicago, perhaps the biggest goal of his short career.
Watching him now, it’s hard to believe that he was the 22nd overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft. In this young season he has 6 goals, 3 assists and leads the league with 3 short-handed tallies all in just ten games. Two of those shorthanded goals came at the expense of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tonight he lit the lamp twice, one goal was short-handed and the other was on the power play.
His stick is lightning fast and when he skates end to end, it’s almost as if the other team is standing still. He has soft hands and seems to have the puck on a string. He has great reaction time and can fake out a goalie better than anyone else in the league.
Claude has the ability to take his game to the next level. He plays with grit and determination that will make him a Philly fan favorite in no time.
He draws comparisons with Gretzky because he has a tendency to be in the right place at the right time, all the time. When the puck is on his stick everyone is waiting for something to happen and it usually does.
It's VERY early in his career to set such high expectations, but there is no doubt Claude has created a niche for himself in this league.
We could very well be looking at the next Wayne Gretzky.
This article was also published here: Philly Sports God Blog