Briere’s first big deadline trade sticks to Flyers’ future plan

Daniel Briere

SUNRISE, Fla. – This was Daniel Briere’s first NHL trade deadline as Flyers general manager and they started him right off with a tough decision to make.

He could either try to hang on to effective, free-agent-to-be Sean Walker or make the best deal possible to improve his rebuilding plan.

The mitigating factor was the Flyers are very much in the Stanley Cup playoff chase and unloading Walker obviously would hurt that prospect.

After much thinking, Briere pulled the trigger on a deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Walker went to Denver in exchange for veteran center Ryan Johansen and, more importantly, Colorado’s first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

Johansen, who’s making a cool $8 million per season, really doesn’t fit into the Flyers’ plans. He was placed on waivers and, upon clearing, is headed to the American Hockey League Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

At a pre-game press briefing at Amerant Bank Arena on Thursday night, Briere made it known he is seeking to find a trade partner somewhere in the NHL which might be a better fit.

After this deal was completed, it looks like Briere might be done doing business for this season. The trade deadline comes up on Friday at 3 p.m. and unless something really attractive comes along, Briere is really to play this hand of cards for the final 19 games.

“It wasn’t an easy one,” Briere said of the Walker decision. “We were very well aware of the position we’re in. We’ve given up a player who’s played extremely well for us. He’s helped us get into the position. So it was tough to let him go.”

Walker, acquired in the Ivan Provorov trade with Los Angeles, exceeded expectations and really put a spark in the Flyers’ overall play.

“At the same time, the asset (a first-round pick) we were getting in return, we felt was something we just could not pass,” the GM said. “There’s lots of value in a first-round pick.”

As for filling Walker’s spot in the lineup, there’s still a chance Briere could pick up something on Friday or instead just go with one of the Flyers’ youngsters such as Adam Ginning or Ronnie Attard. Neither one could come close to replacing Walker.

“We’re not going to give away assets just for the fun of it,” Briere said. “If there’s something that makes sense, we will act on it.

“It’s a fine line where this is also a great time to give our young guys a little bit of a look. It doesn’t sound like Nick (Seeler, who is currently sidelined by injury, as are Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen) will be out too long, so hopefully we can survive.”

The signing of Seeler to a four-year, $10.8-million contract extension (kicking in at the start of the 2024-25) season was the other big move Briere made in the past couple days. With Seeler unsigned for next season, there was a sense of urgency to get this deal done.

“There was some give and take on both sides,” Briere said. “It was finding what was important for him and what we could live with as far as the contract. Nick was adamant that he wanted to stay. Didn’t want to go anywhere else. I think it’s a deal both sides are happy and excited about.”

Briere said Seeler is “a real Flyer.” Having played here for two-plus seasons, he brings a certain element that is tough to find.

Seeler brings a physical element with his size. The Flyers are a little light in that department on the back line with Drysdale and Cam York not exactly intimidating people.

There were other attractive aspects of Seeler’s game which Briere acknowledged.

“The physical play, the toughness is something we had to keep in mind,” Briere said. “The culture side, everything that he brings.

“He’s blocking shots every night. He earned it (the contract). It’s a contract that puts us in a good position. If you trade Nick Seeler, you’re looking for the next Nick Seeler the next day. They’re tough to find. I was receiving a lot of calls because of the type of human being and player he is. He was in demand.”

Don’t look for a frantic Friday.

“I don’t feel the need to go out there and make something happen,” Briere said.

The Flyers have exceeded expectations and have a shot to make the playoffs. But they’re going to keep that rebuild plan in focus.

“I think there is going to be lots of value in just playing those 19 games,” Briere said. “Defend the position we’re in.

“It’s already playoffs for us. That’s the exciting part. Yes, it would be nice to get in the playoffs but not at the risk of taking chances. This team has performed above what everyone expected, including us. We wanted to play some meaningful games at this time of year, that was the goal and we’ve exceeded that. It’s a good problem to have.”

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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.