With the Philadelphia Flyers buying out C Danny Briere, could he be a target of Dale Tallon? Briere is a 35 year old Center who has had some success in his career with Philadelphia, Phoenix Coyotes, and Buffalo Sabres, but the center is on the decline which would explain his buyout in Philadelphia. The Flyers who are looking to shed some salary cap space due to it being lowered by nearly $6 million by the start of next season found themselves in a bind and needed to lower their salary, especially with the recent acquisition of D Mark Streit. Briere was the likely candidate, along with talks of possibly buying out G Ilya Bryzgalov. But where could Briere end up come next season? The Florida Panthers are rumored to be high on C Nathan MacKinnon in the upcoming draft, but now it’s been said that he could be Colorado’s guy with the top pick. C Stephen Weiss is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 5, while Tallon has made attempts to re-sign him odds are he will hit the open market. The Panthers are full on centers currently, but lacking a number one center until Nick Bjugstad develops through experience and even then he may not become a top line center in the NHL.
Should Tallon make an offer to Briere? Absolutely. Centers are hard to come by in the league and to have an abundance is a good problem to have. Should the Panthers decide to draft Seth Jones with the second overall pick or even talented winger Jonathan Drouin they could use Briere to mentor the young Florida roster. Briere, Drouin and Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau could form a dangerous top line for Florida. Of course they would all have the French Canadian influence, which the young wingers may find helpful in developing. They could see it as something that brings them all together, a bond so to speak. Florida also needs to re-sign restricted free agent Shawn Matthias, but depending on how the draft goes, whether or not they get MacKinnon could determine his fate in Florida like Weiss. What would the price be for a 35 year old declining center? It may not be as low as some think. I’ve seen numbers being thrown around such as $2 million per year for two years. But remember, centers are hard to find and Briere still has some gas left in the tank. Expect him to sign for 2 or 3 years around $4.5 to $5 million range. Florida also has the cap space to sign him, especially if Weiss departs in free agency and the possible buyout of RW Scottie Upshall who has been plagued with injuries in Florida and still has 2 years left on a $3.5 million deal.