Fletcher’s Seat Heats Up with Briere’s Addition to Flyers Front Office

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Danny Briere is staying in the City of Brotherly Love with the Philadelphia Flyers. Last Tuesday, Briere was officially named a Special Assistant to the GM to current GM Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher, who was hired on Dec. 3, 2018, is in his fourth season as the GM has had an interesting tenure in the front office.

Fletcher replaced Ron Hextall, who occupied the GM role from 2014-2018. Yet, here we are again having the same conversation, as the Flyers have only gotten past the first round once since Fletcher has been here. After another loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon, Fletcher’s window is getting smaller and smaller in Philadelphia. With the hiring of Briere, what does that window look like?

Let’s start with Fletcher’s trade history and his biggest acquisitions:

  • 2018-19 Season
    • Wayne Simmonds to Nashville for Ryan Hartman and a conditional 2020 4th-round pick
  • 2019-20 Season
    • 2019 5th-round pick to Winnipeg for the rights to RFA Kevin Hayes
    • Radko Gudas to Washington for Matt Niskanen
    • 2019 2nd-round pick and 2020 3rd-round pick to San Jose for Justin Braun
    • Ryan Hartman to Dallas for Tyler Pitlick
    • 2021 5th-round pick to Montreal for Nate Thompson
    • Kyle Criscuolo and a 2020 4th-round pick to Anaheim for Derek Grant
  • 2020-21 Season
    • Erik Gustafsson to Montreal for a 2022 7th-round pick
    • Michael Raffl to Washington for a 2021 5th-round pick
  • 2021-22 Season
    • Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick to Nashville for Ryan Ellis
    • Shayne Gostisbehere, a 2022 2nd-round pick and a 2022 7th-round pick for Future Considerations
    • Robert Hagg, a 2021 1st-round pick, and a 2023 2nd-round pick to Buffalo for Rasmus Ristolainen
    • Jake Voracek to Columbus for Cam Atkinson

Most of Fletcher's big moves happened this past offseason, because he needed to break the core up along with filling spots with holes in the lineup. The Ristolainen deal receiving mixed reviews, notably for the inclusion of a first-round pick. Gostisbehere’s deal also had bad optics with the inclusion of two draft picks in a trade designed to provide salary cap relief. Those optics only get worse with Gostisbehere having a solid season overall with eight goals and 28 points in 48 games in Arizona, his highest points total since the 2018-19 season.

The Flyers are looking to groom Briere into a much higher role, especially after the Montreal Canadiens interviewed him for their GM opening, ultimately deciding on Kent Hughes for the role. Briere, who has been the President and Governor of the Maine Mariners of the ECHL, will be "involved in all aspects of the club's hockey operations including scouting and player development." Since retiring from the NHL, he has worked in the Flyers player development department for the past two seasons working with the organization’s prospects, and players.

"I'm very happy to add Danny to our hockey operations team in a full-time role," Fletcher said in a release last week. "His insight and experience from 25 years in professional hockey, as well as first-hand knowledge of the Philadelphia Flyers, is a valuable asset for our organization and I look forward to working closely with him on a day-to-day basis."

"I'm excited for this new opportunity to join the Flyers hockey operations department," Briere said in a release last week. "Philadelphia is a place that I've called home for a long time and have had some of the most memorable moments in my career. I want to thank Chuck Fletcher and Dave Scott for their confidence and support over the last several years, and I look forward to helping them continue to build a successful team on and off the ice."

It is a tremendous opportunity for Briere to add more to his resume in the hockey operations department. He will have much more say in the trade deadline, NHL Draft, and free agency in what will be a critical time for the Flyers organization.

And we have seen glimpses of Briere's influence with the last two years. He played a part in the Flyers drafting both Tyson Foerster in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft and Samu Tuomaala in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

The Flyers should be rather busy during this trade deadline to figure out what to do with pending UFA's like Ristolainen, Braun, Derick Brassard, Keith YandleMartin Jones, and of course captain Claude Giroux. Briere will certainly have a say in what he thinks would be the best plan moving forward to get this franchise back to a respected, and proud organization.

We'll see how much longer it takes for him to get settled, but don't be surprised if Briere takes Fletcher's place by the off-season, if things continue to go south in Philadelphia.

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