Danny Briere Buyout: Ranking the 5 Best Landing Spots for Soon-to-Be Free Agent
Although many teams will likely be interested in acquiring the 35-year-old right wing, Briere will determine where he plays next because he will have the money from the Flyers from the buyout to accept a pay cut to play for a Stanley Cup contender next season.
But as not all Stanley Cup contenders need either a right wing or more importantly a forward, his options for teams that he sees as possible contenders next year remains limited.
Here are five teams that will be the best landing spots for Briere, come next season.
"Best landing spot" in this case will be defined as a spot where Briere can be a top-six forward, but also have a reasonable chance of winning a Cup.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a three-goal lead on the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their quarterfinal series, and everyone knows what happened to that lead.
When it is noted that the Leafs are the fifth-youngest team in the NHL, per QuantHockey.com, fans can connect the dots.
The Leafs could have used some veteran leadership and scoring depth at forward in those playoffs.
Despite having a bumper crop of free agents that they need to re-sign, only two of these free agents (Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak) are unrestricted free agents.
If the Leafs chose to let MacArthur go, Briere would make for a solid replacement on the wing.
Briere had a down season this year with just 16 points in 34 games played, but with a change of scenery, he could rebound nicely.
If Toronto was able to acquire him for $1 million a year over the next year or two, he could be a fantastic complement on either the second or third line as a winger or even a center if needed.
4. Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings don't need help advancing in the playoffs, as they almost went back to the Stanley Cup Final with a chance to defend their 2012 Stanley Cup, but were eliminated in five games by the Blackhawks.
The Los Angeles Kings do, however, need some help when it comes to cap management.
As of June 19th, the Kings have only nine forwards, five defensemen and one goalie signed for next season with just $7.67 million in cap space, per CapGeek.
Enter a bought-out Briere.
As has been seen and discussed in the Maple Leafs' slide, bought-out players sign for much less with their new teams, because money isn't an issue.
Briere would by no means be a replacement for the big-body presence of Dustin Penner (who could be leaving as an unrestricted free agent this offseason), but the Kings need to sign players for next season and they need to be able to fit under the cap ceiling.
Something has to give.
3. Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are an obvious Stanley Cup contender going into next season, regardless of whether they win the 2013 Cup or not.
The only luxury that the Bruins do not have is the guarantee of right wings coming back next season.
Suggesting that Jaromir Jagr could retire or that Nathan Horton could leave via free agency are realistic points that could both come to fruition.
These players represent the No. 2 and No. 1 right wings for the Bruins, respectively.
Once again, it wouldn't be a stretch to see Briere finding himself a home in Boston if the above situation manifested itself in reality.
2. San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks always seem to be in the running in the playoffs, as of late, but their window could be closing in a couple of years.
So why add a veteran to an already-aging team like the Sharks?
Well, simply put, the Sharks picked up Scott Gomez this season after he was bought out by the Montreal Canadiens and didn't seem to have any qualms in doing so.
Briere, like Gomez, could use a change of scenery, and his ability to get out of the pressure-packed city of Philadelphia means that he could find some new chemistry with his new linemates in San Jose.
The Sharks are also in a bit of a tight financial situation with just $8.6 million in cap space and a couple of key restricted free agents to re-sign. If they can get Briere for $1 million or under (like with Scott Gomez), they'd be infinitely better off in terms of cap space than attempting to re-sign Gomez or Raffi Torres for example.
1. Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings will likely watch Valtteri Filppula head off into the sunset of free agency this year. According to Ansar Khan of MLive.com, Filppula could be looking to get more than $5 million per season, which is far too much for the Red Wings' current salary cap situation.
As has been the theme throughout this slideshow, Briere seems to be a fiscally sound option with a low-risk kind of acquisition with a high-potential reward.
The Red Wings will need to replace a top-six forward with the loss of Filppula, and if Red Wings fans are being honest with themselves, Justin Abdelkader might not belong in the top six either over the long term.
Detroit would be an ideal landing spot for Briere. It has shown its commitment to veteran players over the years, while proving at the same time that it can never be counted out of contention for the Stanley Cup, making the playoffs for 22 straight years.
Should Briere sign there, it would likely only be for a transition year, as the Red Wings have a lot of talent at the forward position buried in the minors with the likes of Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson who will all come calling for roster spots next season.
All statistics via NHL.com, unless otherwise noted.
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