Connect with us

Philadelphia Flyers

Carchidi: Is Flyers’ GM Danny Briere Becoming ‘Keith the Thief?’

Published

on

Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers

Danny Briere is still in his first full season as the Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager. It’s way too early to call him the second coming of Keith “The Thief” Allen, the architect of the franchise’s best teams.

But the early returns have been positive.

Very positive.

In short, the Flyers have a daring general manager who likes to think outside the box.

He did it again Wednesday by prying a first-round draft pick from Colorado for defenseman Sean Walker, a prospective free agent.

Briere likes rolling the dice. He did it when he drafted dynamic right winger Matvei Michkov in the first round in 2023. Many scouts considered him the No. 2 prospect in the draft, but he fell to the Flyers at No. 7 because he has a KHL contract through the 2025-26 season and some Russian players aren’t always permitted to go to North America.

Briere was also bold when he dealt Ivan Provorov, his top defenseman but an under-achiever, and two minor-leaguers in a three-way deal with Columbus and Los Angeles last June. The Flyers’ return included a No. 1 draft pick (promising defenseman Oliver Bonk), two second-rounders, a good defensive prospect, a backup goalie, and a serviceable veteran defensemen, Walker.

That trade looked very good when it was made.

Now it looks even better.

Stockpiling draft picks

Briere added another first-round pick Wednesday. So if you’re scoring at home, he basically got two first-round selections, two second-rounders and a defensive prospect for the enigmatic Provorov.

Bravo.

The trade return Wednesday was even more impressive when you realize Ottawa only got a third-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder for still-productive winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The Senators also retained 50 percent of Tarasenko’s salary.

How Walker retrieved a first-rounder and Tarasenko didn’t is surprising — and a credit to Briere.

Yes, Philly had to absorb Ryan Johansen’s salary until the end of next season, but that’s the price you have to pay to get a first-rounder. Johansen, 31, who has an annual $4 million cap hit, is expected to clear waivers and be sent to the Phantoms. But he could help the Philadelphia Flyers down the stretch this season.

Again, Briere got a very good return for Walker. It should also be known that experts say the 2025 draft will be loaded with quality centers, a position the Flyers need to bolster.

Productive ‘throw-in’

Last June, Walker was seemingly a throw-in as part of the three-way Provorov trade. But he has been beyond serviceable, emerging as a top-four defenseman.

Briere parlayed that into a deal in which he sent Walker and a 2026 fifth-rounder to Colorado for a conditional first-rounder in 2025 (top-10 protected) and 6-3, 218-pound center Johansen (13 goals, 23 points in 63 games). From Colorado’s perspective, it was a salary dump. Then again, Walker was considered a salary dump by the Kings when the Flyers acquired him.

Later in the day, Briere signed Walker’s reliable defensive partner, Nick Seeler, to a four-year contract that has an annual $2.7 million cap hit.

Seeler, 30, earned it. He is a shot-blocking machine. He plays with physicality and is plus-15. He is a throwback who wears his heart on his sleeve.

Another move coming?

All in all, it was a highly productive day for the Flyers and Briere, who still could deal Scott Laughton if he can get a first-rounder before Friday’s 3 p.m, deadline.

At last year’s trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher had a chance to get off the hot seat.

Instead, his seat got hotter after he failed to get anything for pending free agent James van Riemsdyk, and others.

Fletcher was fired a week later.

In 2022, Fletcher did make a terrific trade when he dealt Claude Giroux, two minor-leaguers and a fifth-round draft pick to Florida for Owen Tippett, a first-round pick in 2024, and a third-rounder in 2023.

Overall, however, he was very passive in the trade market. Most of his other deals were inconsequential — or, in the case of the Shayne Gostisbehere trade, a disaster.

Briere has been the full-time GM for less than a year and he has been bold and decisive. He is rebuilding the right way — stockpiling draft picks. At the same time, coach John Tortorella is getting young players in the lineup and they are producing.

Also of note: The Flyers have eight total picks in the first two rounds over the next two drafts, including two in each of  the first rounds in 2024 and 2025.

Put it all together and the Flyers — who sit in a playoff spot despite rebuilding — appear to have a bright future.

And maybe, just maybe, another “Keith the Thief” in the making.

Sam Carchidi writes a weekly column for Philly Hockey Now. He and Jeff Hare are working on a TV series on the Flyers’ glory days, tentatively called “Bullies.” Carchidi can be reached at samcarchidi55@gmail.com.

Get PHHN+ today!

Get PhHN in Your Inbox

Enter your email address to get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox.

Flyers Cap Info

Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now and Philadelphia Hockey Now. In no way affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers or the National Hockey League.