Briere believes draft was step in the right direction

Flyers' draft table: In front, CEO and governor Dan Hilferty, then (from left) assistant general manager Alyn McCauley, GM Daniel Briere, assistant GM Brent Flahr and president of hockey operations Keith Jones.

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last week Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said this NHL Draft was going to be critical to his team’s future.

      At first glance, after two days of activity, it looks like he was able to address most of the needs which made this event so important under his new regime.

      The Flyers rolled the dice a bit with their No. 7 overall pick, the mercurial Russian forward Matvei Michkov, then chose defenseman Oliver Bonk with the No. 22 overall.

      They also used their next two choices on goalies (Carter Bjarnason, Egor Zagravin) and later drafted some big defensemen and some rather diminutive forwards.

      All in all, Briere sounded fairly pleased with his two-day haul at Bridgestone Arena.

      “You know you have to adjust on the fly,” said Briere, who was overseeing his first draft. “But one of the things we wanted to do was take swings. Guys that have high upsides. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work.

      “But the amount of picks we had (they started with 10), it was good to try. Sometimes on smaller forwards, like we did today – goaltenders, big defensemen. Hopefully some of them turn out. If they do, it would be tremendous.”

      The NHL always seems to be reinventing itself with younger, faster, more skilled players. The Flyers sound like they want to follow that trend.

      “We’ve talked about how in the organization we wanted more pure skill,” Briere said. “More talent to make plays, score goals. I think it was kind of time to reload in that department. Some of those could be great. We’re going to give them all the opportunities to be the best they can be.”

      Briere is a realist. He knows that only one or two players out of each draft go on to succeed at a decent or high level.

      “You just never know. It’s tough to project,” he said. “We’re going to give them all opportunities to be the best they can be. If they turn out to be kind of what we see, it could be pretty special but only time will tell.”

      Of course, with the Flyers in almost total rebuild mode, the opportunity for some of these young players would seem to be much more wide open than other established teams.

      “As part of the rebuild, these guys are going to have the chance to play,” Briere said. “We’re going to give them the time to develop. It’s not a rush. We don’t need those guys to be ready to play next year.”

      A lot of the forwards can play both center and wing and that should give the Flyers more flexibility in the years to come.

      “It seems like all these guys have played both, which is great, a big plus that they can play everywhere,” Briere said. “(Last year’s No. 1 pick Cutter) Gauthier is kind of that way. It gives us a lot of options.

      “We did it last year with Noah Cates as well. There are a lot of different ways, especially with the way they feel comfortable.”

      >No plans for big free agents

      Briere said he doesn’t expect to be real active in the opening day of free agency on Saturday.

      Most of the pending UFAs are over the age of 30 and that doesn’t fit with the Flyers’ rebuilding plan.

      “I don’t expect us to be super active,” Briere said. “We don’t want to block our young guys. We want to give them a chance to play. And we’re not looking for long-term contracts either at this point. So don’t expect much in a couple days on that.”

      >Analyzing Hayes trade

      Briere said he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of trading Kevin Hayes to St. Louis for a future sixth-round draft pick on Tuesday but it was something that pretty much had to be done.

      “It wasn’t a deal we loved making,” Briere said. “Kevin is a great guy, really loved by his teammates. The way things went last year wasn’t really ideal.

      “What was important for me was not taking a contract back (the Flyers’ retained 50 percent of the $21 million left on Hayes’ contract). It (shedding $10.5 million) might be a way that we can weaponize it to add some assets down the road.”


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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.