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Flyers GM Daniel Briere Has Excelled In Challenging First Offseason

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Daniel Briere
Flyers general manager Daniel Briere at NHL Draft in Nashville.

Daniel Briere was handed quite a full plate when he became the Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager in the spring.

His to-do list ran long and deep. He had players to dump, a roster to build, contracts and a salary cap to manage, free agents to consider, trade scenarios to evaluate.

Oh, and his first draft loomed, probably the most important draft in franchise history.

He took on these tasks without any previous experience as an NHL general manager. Plus, he works in a demanding market ready to criticize any flaw, real or perceived.

On paper — or on a smartphone screen — Briere’s job looks like it could be overwhelming. Dragging a team out of where the Flyers are, by itself, is difficult enough. The process requires smarts, insight, boldness, vision, courage, and some luck doesn’t hurt.

How has Briere done? He’s had bumps in the road. Understandably so.

But overall? He’s done well. Let’s take a look.

The Trades

Trading Ivan Provorov is viewed as a success, largely because of the haul of draft picks the Flyers received. The Flyers also received two veterans (goalie Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker) and defensive prospect Helge Grans.

Provorov is in his prime, a talented player who consumed big minutes on the ice. Getting back a first-round pick made this trade worthwhile. This is the kind of bold trade a general manager makes when he is serious about rebuilding his team.

Trading Kevin Hayes was a different situation. The Flyers *wanted* to move him. The reported original trade — Hayes and Travis Sanheim to the Blues for Torey Krug and one of St. Louis’ first-round draft picks — would have been palatable. But Krug wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause and the deal collapsed. 

The revised trade was Hayes for the Blues’ sixth-round draft choice — seemingly not much of a return for the Flyers. Not knowing ahead of time that Krug wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause was a fail by someone. The Flyers also retain $3.5 million a year of Hayes’ salary for three years. But that’s how badly the Flyers wanted to trade him.

The Flyers tried to trade Tony DeAngelo to Carolina but the deal got snagged by a CBA rule. So, the Flyers unconditionally waived him, getting nothing in return, and are buying him out.

The bottom line is that the Flyers rid themselves of two players they didn’t want — Hayes and DeAngelo — but it cost them.

Free Agency

As expected, James van Riemsdyk signed with the Bruins. Brendan Lemieux signed with the Hurricanes.

The Flyers signed several depth players in free agency and 36-year-old Marc Staal to help solidify the defense. Garnet Hathaway, Ryan Poehling and Rhett Gardner will compete for ice time. Defenseman Victor Mete looks ticketed for the Phantoms, or an injury backup.

For a rebuilding team, these are the kinds of available players. The Flyers aren’t going for the top-flight free agents — not at this early stage of their rebuild. The fans understand this. Briere dealt with this.

The Signings

Briere quickly made deals with Noah Cates, Cam York, Olle Lycksell and Ronnie Attard. There is no deal yet with Morgan Frost.

When goalie Ivan Fedotov signed a two-year deal with a Russian team, delaying his arrival in Philadelphia, Briere signed another Russian goalie. The 2021 third-round pick, Alexei Kolosov, signed a two-year, entry-level contract then was loaned to Dinamo Minsk.

Briere has done well here.

The Draft

When Matvei Michkov fell through the draft and was available at 7, Briere grabbed him. The Russian was considered by some the second-most talented player in the draft.

Draft evaluations made a month after the picks are silly. No one knows, yet, how good the players are. No one knows if they ever will play in the NHL.

The sense is that the Flyers had an excellent draft, beyond Michkov. First-round defenseman Oliver Bonk looks like a player. Some other picks have high ceilings. But we’ll see. The Flyers are happy with the draft and the fans are, too.

The Trades Not Made

Fans like trades. Briere shocked Flyers fans, and the NHL, by saying he would listen to deals involving franchise goalie Carter Hart. Then, he said he would listen to trade scenarios involving anyone on the roster.

Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny and Sanheim reportedly were discussed. There were reports the Flyers turned down multiple first-round picks for Laughton.

Trading Hart, Laughton, Konecny and Sanheim would signify tanking. Briere has said several times he doesn’t believe in tanking.

Teams might have offered less than market value knowing Briere wanted to deal. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. If Briere was smart enough to recognize that, good for him.

Just like it’s too early to properly evaluate a draft class, you can say the same about a new general manager. But the early returns suggest Briere is off to a good start, maybe stronger than we thought possible.

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Flyers, In Case You Missed It:

What a healthy Sean Couturier would mean for the Flyers.

Oliver Bonk is featured on an NHL Draft behind-the-scenes TV show.

The Stanley Cup makes return visit deep in Flyers country — the Jersey Shore.

Around The National Hockey Network:

Buffalo Hockey Now: Sabres’ depth might lead to trades next season.

Chicago Hockey Now: Blackhawks back in the day looking at the beloved and underrated Steve Larmer.

Colorado Hockey Now: Happy 50th birthday to Peter Forsberg.

Detroit Hockey Now: Former Red Wings great Viacheslav Fetisov criticizes IOC for what he views as an anti-Russia stance.

Florida Hockey Now: Can Oliver Ekman-Larsson bounce back with Panthers?

Montreal Hockey Now: What Jesse Ylonen’s extension could look like with Canadiens.

New Jersey Hockey Now: Devils considering goalie upgrades.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Why Penguins and Drew O’Connor should settle before salary arbitration.

San Jose Hockey Now: Do San Jose Barracuda have a culture problem?

Vegas Hockey Now: Stanley Cup profile on Ivan Barbashev.

Washington Hockey Now: Capitals complete coaching staff by hiring Kirk Muller.

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