BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Daniel Briere will never be undervalued
The skilled but undersized forward signed an eight-year, $52
million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday,
immediately becoming the top player signed on the first day of the
NHL's free agency period and leaving the Buffalo Sabres without one
of their co-captains.
The Flyers weren't done. A few hours later they swung a major
four-player deal with the Edmonton Oilers, acquiring defensemen
Jason Smith and forward Joffrey Lupul in exchange for defenseman
Joni Pitkanen and journeyman forward Geoff Sanderson.
It was a big day for general manager Paul Holmgren, who
continues revamping what had been an aging and slow team that
finished with a league-low 22 wins last season.
"We are extremely please to add Daniel to our roster and eager
to get him into our lineup," Holmgren said. "We look for big
things from him."
The contract is heavily front-loaded, with Briere to make $10
million next season -- double what he made last year. He'll then
make $8 million in the next two years and $7 million during the
2010-13 seasons. The contract then tapers off with Briere scheduled
to make $3 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in the final year of
The Flyers outbid numerous teams that were interested in Briere,
the former Sabres co-captain, who finished 10th in the league with
95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) last season. Buffalo also lost co-captain Chris Drury to free agency.
"Danny had many offers and lots of interest out there," said
Pat Brisson, his agent. "He made sure to carefully look at his
options. He is thrilled with the results."
The Flyers already bolstered their lineup two weeks ago when
they acquired defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell
in a trade with the Nashville Predators. Philadelphia then signed
both to six-year deals: Timonen for $37.8 million and Hartnell for
Briere will be reunited with friend and former teammate,
goaltender Martin Biron, who was traded to Philadelphia by Buffalo
in February and has since claimed the No. 1 job.
Briere broke off talks with the Sabres on Friday, disappointed
that Buffalo offered him a five-year, $25 million contract. The
offer averaged out to the one-year, $5 million contract Briere was
awarded in arbitration last summer, leaving the player confident he
could get more on the open market.
The new deal is a big step up for Briere, who earlier in his
career was knocked for his slight 5-foot-9, 177-pound frame. At one
point, he was placed on waivers by the Phoenix Coyotes.
A nine-year veteran, Briere emerged as a star shortly after
Buffalo acquired him in a deal with Phoenix in March 2003. He has
scored 92 goals and 138 assists for 230 points in 225 games with
the Sabres, a big improvement after 70 goals and 76 assist for 146
points in 258 games with the Coyotes.
He appeared in his first career All-Star Game this season and
earned the game's MVP honors. He also produced in the clutch,
scoring 10 game-winners over the past two seasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.