The first day of free agency saw the Montreal Canadiens largely stand pat, as general manager Marc Bergevin made it pretty clear from the outset that he didn’t want to spend too much time overpaying in free agency. Their only real addition of the day was George Parros, acquired via trade.
The real addition for the Habs actually came a day before free agency started, as they were able to snatch up a Quebec native, and a casualty of the recent wave of compliance buyouts, in bringing in forward Danny Briere. The former Philadelphia Flyers forward was bought out with two years remaining on his deal.
After missing out on Vincent Lecavalier, the Canadiens turned their attention to another offensive talent on the decline, though bringing in Briere represents a much larger risk than that of Lecavalier, both because of his age and his recent performance. The deal for Briere is only two years, but it’s also carrying a $4 million cap hit in each of those two.
Briere has never been the most durable players, not making his way into a full 82-game schedule since the 2003-2004 season, but it’s not like he’s seen season after season get derailed by injury. Even without significant health issues, age has reared its ugly head for the career of Danny Briere in the past few seasons.
The decline of his point production has been startling. He went from 0.88 points per game in 2010-11, a solid year, to pretty significant dips in the two seasons that have followed. The 2011-12 season saw him dip down to 0.70 points per game, all the way down to 0.47 in 2013. Shortened season or not, that may not bode well for the future.
Briere will turn 36 by the time the 2013-14 season is ready to begin. His game hasn’t aged particularly well, as evident by his struggles in the past couple of years. We’ll have to see if that can be aided by a change of scenery, or if we are really witnessing a guy in a sharp decline, barreling towards the end of his career.