Daniel Briere’s recent benching has the rumor mill churning, and it appears his stint as a Montreal Canadien could be coming to a close very soon.
Briere was signed in the offseason to a two year contract with the Montreal Canadiens that would pay him 4 million per year. The hope was that the veteran forward would be able to add a scoring touch to the Canadiens forward ranks, but he has struggled to find the net in a Habs sweater.
Briere began the season with three points in eight games before suffering a concussion against the Nashville Predators on October 19th. After missing ten games with the injury, Briere returned and had his best stretch of games this year – seven points in 11 games. Since then, Briere has not recorded a point in ten straight contests, is a minus seven over that span and was a healthy scratch in three of the past four Canadiens games.
His latest benching, and the following tweet from one of the NHL’s best insiders has led to much speculation that Briere could be on the move.
Daniel Briere is a proud guy and obviously isn't happy with his situation. How long before both the player and team look for a better fit?
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 3, 2014
The problem with moving Briere is not only does he have a no movement clause, but he is 36 years old, and has just ten points in 29 games this season. So, not only would Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin have to convince Briere to waive his clause, but he would have to find someone willing to take on Briere’s contract, which could be very difficult.
There have been plenty of rumors that Briere’s former team, the Buffalo Sabres would be interested in bringing him back, and the readers at sabrenoise.com seem interested. This makes some sense, given that the Sabres new management has decided to send several youngsters back to the minors or Junior leagues, and allow them to develop while Buffalo goes through a rebuild.
If Pat Lafontaine and Ted Nolan are not interested in having teenagers on a sinking ship, then bringing back a former fan favorite in Briere to bridge the gap until their impressive crop of prospects are ready to take the reins is a viable option. Just do not expect the Sabres to give up much to bring back Briere.
The best (and most likely) return that the Canadiens could expect would be a similar contract on a struggling Sabre such as Drew Stafford. Stafford began his career showing promise as a potential goal scorer, but has found the back of the net just ten times in his past 86 games with Buffalo. Drew also has the exact same cap situation in the future – one year remaining on a 4 million annual salary.
Another option for the Sabres would be to take on Briere’s contract and only send a late draft pick, or a lowly prospect back to the Canadiens. This would obviously work for Buffalo but why would Montreal be interested?
Well, first they would remove a terrible contract and not have it on the books in the future, and removing Briere from the roster would give more ice time to deserving young players like Michael Bournival and Alex Galchenyuk.
Hopes were high for Briere when he came to Montreal, but just half a season later chances are he gets moved for a minimal return.