A more comfortable Briere makes confident moves at draft

      LAS VEGAS – To borrow a bit of wording from another expression, hockey drafting is always better the second time around.

      When Daniel Briere stepped to the microphone at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville last June, the Flyers then-rookie general manager didn’t seem to have a lot of conviction in his voice or with his personnel moves.

      But with a year under his belt at this draft in Sin City, it was a much more confident Briere who made two big trades on Friday and came back with two more somewhat equally significant deals on Saturday at The Sphere.

      Without a doubt, Briere’s ultimate intention is to make the Flyers a younger, faster and smarter hockey team.

      So even though he had 10 picks at his disposal this time around, Briere was wheeling and dealing like he had been in the front office for 15 years.

      The idea is to procure as much young talent as possible, keeping in mind the Flyers nearly made the Stanley Cup playoffs last season in a year where the team really didn’t figure to do much.

      Briere’s assistant GM, Brent Flahr, smiled at the conclusion of the draft when asked whether Briere looked more sure of himself at this draft.

      “When things are going fast and teams are calling, (asking) ‘do you want to move up or do you want to move down?’. . .you know we tried to move up a number of times,” Flahr said. “Sometimes you have to wait to see if your player is (still) there on the board before you do it.

      “One time we were going to do it and we almost would have been caught. So it worked out fine. It’s one of those things where you’re up to speed, it’s a challenge, but it’s kind of what makes it fun down there, too.”

      Only time will tell if all the moves Briere made will really pan out. But perhaps in the bigger picture, Briere is giving the impression he has a clear vision of what he wants the Flyers to look like two or three years down the road.

      “I definitely felt more comfortable,” he said. “The first time around, things are happening fast. You know today, it was interesting: The last few years we really weren’t involved in the second round of the draft.”

      After Columbus opted out of sending the second-round pick it owes the Flyers until 2025, Briere went into action, eventually securing a second second-round slot from Nashville.

      “It was interesting to see today,” Briere said. “We had (No.) 51 but we were trying to get another one. It was a good lesson for me to see how active it can be when you have picks in the second round.

      “You spend the night (before), guys (on the staff) kind of have their list – you have a chance to re-focus. There are players that are staring at you and we’re not the only team, most teams are doing that.”

      It didn’t exactly make for a restful evening of sleep on Friday night. And if your brain is still working on Eastern time, that 7 a.m. alarm clock seemed to go off rather early on Saturday morning.

      “I saw how valuable it is to have early second-round picks,” Briere said. “Those guys who have the first 10 picks in the second round are getting hounded by a lot of people.”

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      Decisions to make: The deadline to make qualifying offers to forward Bobby Brink, defenseman Egor Zamula and goaltender Carter Hart is Sunday.

      Briere said decisions would be discussed on Saturday night as the Flyers make their way home.

      “We’re still talking to their agents,” Briere said. “Then make something happen. We’ll have a better answer to that on July 1 (Monday).”

      The GM said he’s probably leaning toward keeping veteran goaltender Cal Petersen on the roster. Petersen proved a capable call-up from the Phantoms last season when the Flyers needed his services. And Hart’s playing status for next season is still way up in the air.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 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.