Daniel Briere was selected by the then-Phoenix Coyotes 24th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted Briere returned to the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs for one more season. In his final year with Drummondville, he finished in the top-three in scoring for the third-consecutive season with 130 points. Additionally, he was awarded the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy for being the league’s “most sportsmanlike player.”
Briere would spend his first four years playing professional hockey splitting time between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. In his first year, he recorded 92 points in 68 games with Springfield. Additionally, he was awarded the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s top rookie. Briere finally received consistent playing in the NHL during the second half of the 2000-01 season. He played his first full season with Phoenix the following year.
At the 2002-03 trade deadline, the Coyotes sent Briere to Buffalo, along with a third-round pick, in exchange for Chris Gratton and a fourth-rounder. Unfortunately for Phoenix, Briere developed into a star with the Sabres. He would play 225 games for Buffalo, recording 92 goals and 138 assists.
Flyers Sign Daniel Briere to a Multi-Year Contract
Briere became an unrestricted free agent in July of 2007. After many expected him to sign with his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens, Briere decided to take his talents to Philadelphia instead. The Flyers inked Briere to an eight-year contract worth $52 million. The deal was front-loaded, paying Briere $10 million the first year. Along with Scott Gomez and Thomas Vanek, he was the highest paid player for the 2007-08 season.
Briere’s decision to join the Flyers over the Canadiens usually is attributed to two things. First, his friend and former teammate, Martin Biron, was playing for Philadelphia after being traded from Buffalo. Second, it did not come with the same pressure as playing for the Habs.
In his first year in Philadelphia, Briere saw a substantial dip in his numbers. However, he still finished second on the team in points with 72. Though his numbers took a hit, Briere played a crucial role in bringing the Flyers to 2008 conference semi-finals against the Penguins. Philadelphia would eventually lose the series and Pittsburgh would go on to win the Stanley Cup. Still, the fact that Philly went from being the worst team in the league to reaching the conference finals the next year was quite remarkable.
The following season, Briere could not stay healthy. He suffered an abdominal tear in late October and continued to find himself getting hurt throughout the year. When the 2008-09 season came to a close, Briere had only been able to play 29 games.
Though he would miss some games due to both suspension and injury, Briere was able to play most of the 2009-10 season. He recorded a respectable 26 goals and 27 assists in 75 games. However, his most significant accomplishments came in the postseason. Briere led the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring with 30 points. Additionally, he broke the Flyers record for postseason points. In the Stanley Cup Final series, he would record an astounding 12 points. This feat would be one point short of an SCF record held by Wayne Gretzky.
The 2010-11 season would turn out to be Briere’s best as a Flyers. He scored 34 goals, added 34 assists, and replaced Jarome Iginla in the 2011 All-Star Game. Once again, he put together an impressive postseason, posting seven goals in 11 games.
Briere would play two more seasons for Philadelphia, failing to match his production in 2010-11. On June 18, 2013, the Flyers bought-out the rest of Briere’s contract, ending his tenure with Philadelphia.
Transaction Grade: B
Let’s start this section by stating that Briere is one of my favorite Flyers. He was one of the first smaller players that didn’t let his size prevent him from being a force in the NHL. Yes, an eight-year contract proved to be too lengthy, but they almost always do. It is a rarity to see someone play at a high-level for the entirety of a lengthy deal. Still, Briere provided the Flyers with some good years and was one of the team’s more reliable members come playoff time.