The Canadiens have finally won in the Daniel Briere sweepstakes. Briere has agreed to a Canadiens two-year contract paying 4 million dollars annually. The contract cannot be made official until the Free Agency signing period opens at noon Friday.
June 20th the Flyers bought out the remaining two years and five million dollars remaining on an eight year 52 million dollar contract he signed in 2007.
At the time, the Canadiens, then under Bob Gainey leadership, tried to lure Briere but he opted for a front-loaded Flyers contract that paid him 10 million the first year and eight in the second. At the time Briere also indicated he was not ready to face the scrutiny hockey players, especially the French Canadians, are subjected to by fans and media in Montreal. Since then he has been mercilessly booed by fans at the Bell Centre.
Briere’s final decision came down to the Canadiens or Devils. Briere, as a divorced father of three sons who reside in the Philadelphia suburbs, seriously considered the New Jersey as an option because Newark is a 75 mile drive his home.
At the time of his buyout Briere told NHL.com what he wanted from his new team, “There’s a bunch of things I’m looking for. Obviously, hopefully a team that has a chance to win, a team that would have a role for me, a team that feels that I could help out. Hopefully a team that I feel I have a fit with, as well”.
So what’s next?
Briere’s signing creates a logjam at centre ice with five players vying for the top three slots if you include Galchenyuk. It could be the door has been opened for a trade of either David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec or Lars Eller, with Desharnais the most vulnerable.
It should be mentioned that when Buffalo acquired him from Phoenix he was listed as a right winger. Lindy Ruff converted him to back to centre, a position he had with Drummondville when the Coyotes selected him late in the second round of the 1996 draft. Briere came to the Sabres along with a third rounder for Chris Gratton and a fourth rounder, a deal Phoenix came to regret very quickly.
Briere has 282 goals and 373 assists in 847 career NHL games with Phoenix, Buffalo and Philadelphia