Briere's return is welcome, but costly
Last Saturday, the Flyers made their version of a blockbuster transaction. They activated Danny Briere from injured reserve, welcoming back an offensive-minded forward who, when healthy, can be a dynamic scoring presence.
"He's a big boost," said coach John Stevens of Briere, who missed 36 games because of a groin injury. "He's kind of a game-breaker type of player.
"He doesn't need many chances to score. He's an explosive player who can hopefully do some good things on our power play like he's done before.
"It just gives us another threat in our forward group here who can score. We feel like we have three lines that can score now. Our fourth line has been chipping in as of late. We think he can do a lot."
Briere, at his high-flying best in Buffalo two seasons ago (32-63 -95 in 81 games), has been a point-per-game player who should give the Flyers valuable scoring depth in the playoffs. In 57 postseason games, Briere has 22 goals and 31 assists.
But by activating Briere, general manager Paul Holmgren had to make a string of moves to make room, temporarily disrupting the existing chemistry - a fate that might strike the Bruins if GM Peter Chiarelli pulls the trigger on any trades before today's 3 p.m. deadline.
To make room for Briere's $6.5 million cap hit, Holmgren had to place defenseman Ossi Vaananen and ex-Bruin Glen Metropolit on waivers. Last Friday, Vancouver claimed Vaananen, while Montreal grabbed Metropolit. That night, Philadelphia played Metropolit and the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, dropping a 4-3 match in overtime.
"It was a little weird," said Flyers defenseman Andrew Alberts, the former Bruin. "Especially that first night against Montreal when Metro lines up against you. Leading up to that week, we knew something was going to happen. We lost guys that played pretty well for us all year long."
On Sunday, Briere dressed against New Jersey, his first outing since Dec. 2. The Devils blanked the Flyers, 3-0, with Briere recording one shot in 16:18 of ice time. He played 14:27 in last night's 4-2 win over the Bruins, landing two shots.
While Briere's coach and teammates underscore his skill, they acknowledge that his return has had a trickle-down effect on the roster. Chiarelli has said he would be cautious about trading a roster player because of the uncertainty of how such a trade might affect chemistry.
"These guys all get along well," said Stevens. "Danny's living downtown with a lot of the younger players and become good friends with them. Any time you see a guy leave, it's a hard part of the business. It doesn't matter how it happens or when it happens.
"This is a pretty close group. I think the leadership here is strong. I think they can absorb those kinds of changes. But it does take some time."
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.