Now that the smoke has cleared from Tuesday’s game-changing Ivan Provorov trade, there should be few doubters about Flyers new GM Daniel Briere’s intentions to put the “build” in rebuild.
It feels like Briere is willing to try just about anything to get this once-proud franchise back on its two skates and if that means parting ways with a No. 1 defenseman to acquire the necessary assets to execute the plan, so be it.
Securing the No. 22 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft to complement his already held No. 7, Briere may be setting in motion a somewhat comprehensive overhaul of last season’s roster.
Which, if we’re reading the trail signs properly, means no one has one hundred percent job security in Philadelphia.
No doubt rumors will now continue to fly throughout the offseason. After all, if Provorov was expendable, who’s to say the same can’t be said for a Carter Hart, a Travis Konecny or a Tony DeAngelo?
“We’re open for business,” Briere reiterated during a Zoom call, basically repeating what he had said at a Wells Fargo Center press conference a few weeks back when he had the interim tag removed from his job title and Keith Jones was named as president of hockey operations.
“We listen on everybody. Everybody’s being treated the same way for us on our side. We’ll listen if it makes sense. If the value is there, definitely. That’s kind of the luxury of having a lot of picks and, unfortunately, in the situation we’re at when you finish a little lower in the standings, you have better picks. It’s good and it’s bad. You have to suffer for it. Nothing’s off the table on our side.”
Don’t think for a second Briere came up with this plan all by his lonesome.
Of course head coach John Tortorella is having a big say behind the scenes. In fact, throughout the season he kept reminding beat writers that the 2022-23 season was more about evaluating talent (“who stays, who goes”) than it was about wins and losses.
When a coach has won a Stanley Cup, as Tortorella did with Tampa Bay some 20 years ago, and also resurrected a moribund franchise in Columbus, people listen and pay attention.
Then there’s Jones, as good an evaluator of hockey talent as you’re going to find. That’s why he’s working at ice level for TNT television in this Stanley Cup Final. You think he once played on the Flyers’ legendary Legion of Doom line with Eric Lindros and John LeClair because of his physical skills?
No, he’s as shrewd as they come. That certainly played a part in his hiring for this position, which includes overseeing the developmental system. If you’re going to start over again and build with young players, this is a guy you want on speed dial.
So will the Flyers make other bold moves, like shopping Hart? Over his career, the goalie has shown flashes of brilliance but it’s hard to get a real good read on his skill level because the product in front of him has been so mediocre these past three non-playoff seasons.
Here’s how we see it: If the Flyers had one or two up-and-coming hotshots in their development pipeline, one might consider a player such as Hart expendable. The problem is, the jury is still out on Felix Sandstrom and Samuel Ersson. In brief stints at the NHL level, their results have been mixed.
So perhaps it depends on what sort of timeline Briere has in mind. He’s already asked his fan base for patience and indicated this isn’t going to be a one-year thing.
Briere figures to use every resource available to put together future trades, just as he did with the Provorov deal.
“The amazing part with this is how many departments were involved,” Briere said. “Obviously the guys in my area and assistant GM, to the guys around me were really involved but our amateur scouts (also) were involved with the picks, with the young players, what they remembered.
“Our pro scouts were really helpful with some of the players involved. And our analytics department was really creative helping with that deal. So it’s pretty cool how different departments kind of came together. Pretty exciting how the team came together.”
In the previous Dave Scott-Chuck Fletcher regime, the concept of a total rebuild generated quite a bit of talk but a lot of it seemed like just lip service.
Now Briere is putting his “money” where his mouth is. If anybody doubts that, just give Ivan a call.