Speaking of Lecavalier, despite the many reasons there were to not sign him, he undeniably would have been the better fit with the Habs over Briere. Lecavalier is actually from Montreal (Briere is from near Ottawa) and is also younger, tougher, bigger and just a better all-around player in general.
It’s almost as if Bergevin panicked when he snubbed Montreal six days ago and went harder after the next best thing out there: A player who snubbed Montreal six years ago.
Maybe Bergevin felt he couldn’t land anyone once free agency actually began and felt the need to sign anyone who would have him, desperation be damned. Maybe he more realistically believes he couldn’t get anyone else for the right amount of money. Or, maybe, just maybe, he legitimately believes Briere is the answer.
Unfortunately, if any of those hypotheses are accurate, he was likely wrong.
For example, Jaromir Jagr is still available and, based on his well-documented wishes to play for Montreal as recently as last summer, he would actually want to be here for reasons aside from a steady paycheck.
At 41, he’s definitely older than Briere but arguably would have been a better fit because of his chemistry with Plekanec. At 41, he also likely would have been OK with a one-year term and signed for less than $4 million.
As such, that Briere was had for cheaper than Lecavalier would have commanded is irrelevant, as there were other, better and cheaper options out there, as Jagr proves. And one need not look all that far for further proof.
On Friday, the New Jersey Devils might have signed Ryane Clowe, in whom the Habs were also interested, for an insane, undeserved $4.85 million, but they also signed Michael Ryder for an actually reasonable $3.5 million per year for two seasons.
Yes, Michael friggin’ Ryder, who has less of an injury history than Briere (perhaps because he’s nearly three years younger), 29 more goals over the last two years, 32 more points and fits in so well with the Habs that they acquired him on two separate occasions. And yet Bergevin let Ryder pursue free agency…just to land Briere…for more money. It’s unfathomable.
Now, I’m a firm believer in the theory that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, but even I can admit that Ryder, a guy who went without a goal in the season’s last nine games last year for Montreal, is not the answer. So, if Ryder is not the player who will push the Habs over the top, Briere definitely isn’t either.
Briere is far from bad. He has offensive skill, is a proven playoff performer, bangs home rebounds like nobody’s business and will probably help out the power play (again, a power play that ranked fifth in the league and didn’t necessarily need help, but I digress).
In fact, his style of play is eerily reminiscent of that of Brendan Gallagher, who was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy this past season. However, the Calder is awarded to rookies. Briere is nearly 15 years older than Gallagher and the charm kind of wears off once the injuries start to pile up.
It’s probably best to consider Briere "Brendan Gallagher-light" as a result, even if he is an incredible one pound heavier (one inch taller, for the record). And that last line sums up this acquisition best.
After going off the board to draft the 6’5”, 228-pound Michael McCarron in the first round last week, thereby acknowledging the Habs need to get bigger, Bergevin just signed Briere to make the Habs even smaller than they were already.
With the signing, the Habs will now have as many as four forwards in the top six that are 5’10” or shorter and less than 180 pounds. Now, size admittedly isn’t everything, but it is a lot, and the Habs just don’t have, well, any.
With 22 roster spots filled and Bergevin having qualified Ryan White and Gabriel Dumont, another move is unlikely. That Montreal’s big acquisition of the offseason is fourth-line enforcer George Parros speaks volumes as to just how much Bergevin failed to prioritize and address Montreal’s key needs.
Maybe that’s unfair, but only to Parros, because he can legitimately help Montreal, giving the team a legitimate heavyweight at 6’5” and 228 pounds who will help to protect Briere and company come next season. It would be infinitely better, though, if he didn’t have to.
Bergevin has by most accounts done a good job up to now, but, discounting the four token pros listed in previous slides, there is really no good way to justify this move. The Habs will still likely contend for the top spot in their division again, but it’s definitely less for certain now because of the question mark that is Daniel Briere.
This isn't six years ago, Briere isn't the same player he was and the Habs should be looking toward the future anyway. Thankfully, it's still bright, but not at all because of this signing.