NHL Trade Rumors: Why the Philadelphia Flyers Should Trade Danny Briere

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 09: Danny Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center on February 9, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Trading star forward Danny Briere would be a difficult move for Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, but it's one he must consider before the NHL's April 3 trade deadline passes.

Briere is a fan favorite in Philadelphia and has helped the franchise achieve a lot of success since he arrived in 2007 as a marquee free agent.

At 35 years old, Briere's value to the Flyers is slowly dwindling, and if Holmgren has the opportunity to acquire a top-four defenseman in exchange for his veteran winger, he should do everything possible to make the move.

Per Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News:

[Blues] general manager Doug Armstrong visited Philadelphia for the second time in three home games, and also caught the Flyers in Toronto on Feb. 11. According to sources, Armstrong has been asking for forward Danny Briere. He isn't the only one. Boston inquired about Briere last week, among others.

Philadelphia has a tremendous core of young forwards to build around over the next five to seven seasons, including emerging superstar Jakub Voracek, Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and captain Claude Giroux. The team's first-round pick in 2012, center Scott Laughton, also impressed in his five-game stay with the team in January.

This team has plenty of scoring depth for the future, which makes Briere expendable if a defenseman is available on the trade market.

One concern for the Flyers moving forward is their salary cap situation. Per Capgeek, Briere has another two years left on his contract with a $6.5 million salary cap hit. That's a substantial cap hit for an aging player who is not capable of producing like a No. 1 center anymore.

With core players such as Giroux, Schenn and Couturier eligible to become restricted free agents in the summer of 2014, the Flyers will need more cap space than they have now to make sure that these players remain with the franchise long term.

One of the best ways for the Flyers to free up additional cap space to re-sign important young players is to trade Briere. They could also buy out Briere, but why do that when he still has some value on the trade market?

The Flyers will likely make the playoffs in 2013, but hoisting the Stanley Cup, or even winning two rounds in the postseason, is an unrealistic goal for this team because of its defensive issues and inconsistent goaltending.

Philadelphia currently ranks 21st in goals against and its No. 1 defenseman is Kimmo Timonen, who's 37 years old and could retire after the 2013-14 season. Holmgren has to think about the future, and for this club to contend for a championship over the next few years, it needs more top-tier talent and depth on the blue line.


Which Teams Could the Flyers Trade Briere to for Blue-Line Help?

There are a couple of teams that have defensive depth to offer, a need at center or will be close to the salary cap floor next season that could possibly be interested in Briere. At the moment, nine of the 16 teams in a playoff spot between both conferences have $9 million or more in cap space.

The Phoenix Coyotes badly need a top-line center, and they have several talented defenseman to dangle in a trade for a top-six forward. Keith Yandle's name often comes up in trade speculation, and his elite offensive ability would be a perfect addition to the Flyers blue line. However, acquiring a player like Yandle would probably cost the Flyers more than just Briere.

The Winnipeg Jets also need an additional top-six forward and have a few quality defenseman that the Flyers may be interested in.

Veteran blueliner Dustin Byfuglien is a versatile player with Stanley Cup-winning experience who can play on defense or at forward with his tremendous offensive talent. He has three more years left on his contract with a manageable $5.2 million cap hit. Byfuglien would be tremendous addition to the Flyers blue line.

The Nashville Predators are another playoff contender who have a major need for a top-six forward because they are ranked dead last in goals scored this season. Nashville has a few good young defenseman at the NHL level and throughout its organization who could interest the Flyers in a possible deal for Briere, including Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.

Maybe the Flyers could convince the Calgary Flames to do a Briere for Jay Bouwmeester trade, which would essentially be a swap of bad contracts.

Bouwmeester has one more year left on his deal with a $6.68 million cap hit, but since he is now the NHL's all-time leader in games played among players without a postseason appearance, the Flames star would certainly be motivated to help Philadelphia earn a playoff spot in 2013. He would also give the Flyers some much-needed scoring from the blue line and help the team's puck movement in all three zones with his impressive vision and passing skills.

Another team that needs a center and could be willing to part with a top-four defenseman is the Dallas Stars. Since the Stars are in seventh place in the Western Conference, it's unlikely that they will make another major trade after acquiring Erik Cole from the Montreal Canadiens.

However, if the team falls out of the playoff race and/or it doesn't think captain Brenden Morrow will re-sign this summer when he's eligible to be a UFA, Dallas may look for a top-six center to replace him before the trade deadline.

Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas are three quality defensemen that the Flyers could pursue in any trade with the Stars. Each of these veterans have at least two years left on their contracts with cap hits less than $5 million.


Will a Deal Happen?

The odds of the Flyers actually trading Briere don't appear to be very high right now, but if the opportunity to acquire a top-four defenseman presents itself, Holmgren should do all he can to make a deal work.

Per Seravalli:

Briere, 35, is one player who isn't going anywhere. The Flyers have not asked Briere to waive his no-trade clause, and it isn't clear whether they're interested in moving him, but he provided an answer Tuesday. Briere has a full no-movement clause - meaning he can't even be sent to the minors without his permission - and will not waive it to be dealt to any team in the NHL, regardless of destination.

Don't expect Briere to be traded before the deadline, even though it would be a positive move for the Flyers if a top-four defenseman was part of the return package.

Unless a team is going to overpay to acquire Briere, which seems unlikely, it's hard to imagine him not wearing a Flyers sweater past April 3.


Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs.