Year in Review: Danny Briere’s Rookie Season as Flyers GM

Year in Review: Danny Briere’s Rookie Season as Flyers GM Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Danny Briere was practically thrown into the fire. As a dismal 2022-23 season neared its end, Briere was named the interim GM in the wake of Chuck Fletcher’s departure. 

Essentially from the word go, Briere was off and running ever since. Fast forward to today, just over a year since he became GM, and Briere has signed 26 players, both free agents and contract extensions, drafted 10 players in his first draft as GM, and made nine trades.

Here, we look back on how Briere’s rookie season as Flyers GM went with an in-depth look at how he did and what the future could look like for the former player turned GM.


This was an important moment in the new regime for Briere and the Flyers. With his first pick as GM, he did not go with the safe pick like past GMs would have. He took a risk, and one that could pay off sooner than expected. Briere drafted Russian star Matvei Michkov with the seventh overall pick. Michkov does not need any introduction, and a potential early arrival could make this pick even more of a home run than anticipated. Draft Grade: A+

With a second first-round pick, Briere made a much safer pick. There is nothing wrong with the selection of Oliver Bonk at 22nd overall. The only slight against Briere is that, depending on best player available, one could certainly argue that Gabriel Perreault was the right pick. Briere chose Bonk instead, who is coming off of an outstanding season with the London Knights capping it off by winning the OHL Championship. Bonk will help with the power play struggles and has a chance to be a top-four defenseman. Draft Grade: B+

Briere drafted two goalies with his next selections, drafting Carson Bjarnason and Yegor Zavragin. Both goalies were among the best in the draft class. Zavragin showed his potential with his recent win as VHL Rookie of the Year. Goalies take the longest to develop and you never know how many you’ll need. Draft Grade: B

The remaining draft picks include Denver Barkey, Cole Knuble, Alex Ciernik, Carter Sotheran, Ryan MacPherson, and Matteo Mann. The most notable pick out of that group is Barkey, who scored a career-high 35 goals and 67 assists for 102 points in 64 games. In the OHL Playoffs, he added another six goals and 27 points in 18 games and also played a big role in he London Knights journey to an OHL championship. 

If anything, Briere proved he was not afraid to take chances on smaller players like Barkey, or players with upside at the right time, such as Ciernik. As for the other players, we’ll see what they become when they properly develop. Draft Grades: B


Briere was put in a tough spot give the state of the Flyers at the time of his promotion to interim GM. Almost right away, he stated he was not afraid to use the word “rebuild,” something his predecessor did not do. 

From the beginning, Briere has continuously stated that for the Flyers to make a move, it has to make sense. He said this following a very busy Day 1 of the 2023 Free Agent Frenzy, when he signed Garnet Hathaway, Ryan Poehling, and Rhett Gardner

“We’re going to keep looking the next few days, whatever’s out there,” Briere said. “I’m not saying something’s going to happen, but we’re keeping our eyes open if it makes sense.”

Gardner was a solid move for AHL depth. Hathaway and Poehling both exceeded expectations in their first year in South Philadelphia. 

Hathaway played in all 82 games this season with seven goals and 17 points. He was certainly valuable to the Flyers considering the physicality he has displayed throughout the entire year. Considering that Hathaway is not an offensive threat, it is still encouraging that he scored 17 points, one of his best offensive seasons in his career. Signing Grade: B+

Poehling was exceptional on the penalty kill this season. The 25-year-old scored three shorthanded goals this season. Besides the production, Poehling did all of the little things the right way. He blocked shots, disrupted passes, got in shooting lanes, and fought for the pukc in the corners. 

Similar to how teammate Tyson Foerster was credited by head coach John Tortorella earlier in the season, both he and Poehling earned their ice time. Poehling was even rewarded with a two-year, $3.8 million extension during the season. Signing Grade: B+

A majority of other signings Briere made included getting key prospects like Bonk, Barkey, Massimo Rizzo, and Alexei Kolosov all signed to their entry-level contracts. On top of that he locked up Owen Tippett to a massive eight-year, $49.6 million extension, ensuring he remains in Philadelphia. 

Inching closer to trade deadline day, Briere also had a decision to make regarding pending free agents Sean Walker and Nick Seeler. He opted to re-sign Seeler to a four-year, $10.8 million extension. 

Seeler is your prototypical Flyer who hits hard, fights, blocks shots, stands up for his teammates, and is a great locker room guy. He certainly will get ice time next year, however he is also potentially taking valuable ice time away from younger defensemen, like Emil Andrae and Ronnie Attard, both of which will likely be here longer. The tenure of a four-year extension isn’t great from Briere, but keeping Seeler’s AAV under $3 million is tidy work. Extension Grade: C+

The Tippett extension was a very notable one, considering he had yet to really prove what he was while with the Florida Panthers before being sent to the Flyers in the Claude Giroux trade. Tippett showed plenty of signs of star potential, but at the same time has moments of inconsistency. He scored 28 goals and 53 points in 78 games played, which both topped career-highs from the previous season. If Tippett is able to keep this going, then this will be a fantastic extension with a very team-friendly AAV. Extension Grade: A-

Ivan Fedotov was certainly a very nice surprise for Briere and the Flyers late in the season, especially after the ordeal to get him to North America. Fedotov even got some NHL action down the stretch. 

Early in the offseason, it was announced that Fedotov was re-signed to a two-year, $6.5 million extension, which certainly raised some eyebrows. How did a contract with those terms fit for a goalie with only three NHL games and one NHL start? Well, it is a bit more complicated than that. 

Before officially arriving in the NHL, Fedotov had a legal one-year contract with the Flyers that was tolled twice. It is more than likely that Briere had to offer the Russian goalie a little bit more money to help get him properly over to the U.S. With this extension, Briere’s starting goalie Sam Ersson – re-signed to a two-year, $1.45 million AAV extension the previous offseason – and Fedotov’s contracts are a combined $4.7 million total until 2026-27, when both of their contracts will need to be extended. Extension Grade: C+


Briere swung for the fences with his first trade as the GM for Philadelphia, before the Stanley Cup was even awarded in the 2022-23 season. He made the decision to move defenseman Ivan Provorov

The trade was a three-team deal between the Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and Columbus Blue Jackets. The official trade was Provorov to Columbus for a 2023 first-round pick – used to draft Bonk 22nd overall – and a conditional 2024 second-round pick. The condition on that pick has yet to be made, as the Blue Jackets have until the end of the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft to decide if they will give the Flyers their second-round pick then or for the 2025 NHL Draft. 

It is a fantastic place to be in if you’re Briere. Either way, he is expected to receive a high second-round pick. The 2025 draft is also rumored to be an even deeper draft than the 2024 class, so that’s something to keep in mind. 

To make the money work from both ends, the Kings were involved as well. They received Kevin Connauton and Hayden Hodgson in return for Walker, Cal Petersen, Helge Grans, and a 2024 second-round pick. The second-round pick was sent during Day 2 of the 2023 NHL Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks along with a 2023 sixth-round pick to trade up and select Bjarnason. Trade Grade: A+

The Kevin Hayes situation with Tortorella following exit day in 2023 made it quite clear that Hayes would likely not be a Flyer moving forward. Hayes was rumored to be in a larger deal, but ultimately moved for only a 2024 sixth-round pick with the Flyers retaining 50 percent of his salary. 

There was certainly a chance of the Flyers getting more for Hayes, but once the reported trade, which also involved Travis Sanheim and Torey Krug was ultimately vetoed by Krug, Briere had essentially no leverage. Trade Grade: C-

A small but bizarre trade that followed was Briere acquiring the rights to Rizzo from the Carolina Hurricanes for the rights of former Flyer David Kase. Briere had attempted to trade for Rizzo by sending Tony DeAngelo back to Carolina, but the NHL deemed the Flyers could not trade the same player back to his original team within a year. This ultimately led the Flyers to buy out DeAngelo and explore other options to acquire Rizzo. 

Rizzo has plenty of potential, and fills a position of need as a center. Considering the only asset Briere gave up is a player actively playing in Sweden with almost no likelihood of returning to the NHL was another tidy piece of business. Trade Grade: B

By far one of the most memorable trades in recent Flyers history ironically happened during a game. The infamous Cutter Gauthier fiasco forced Briere’s hand to trade him to a team that would ultimately be able to sign the former fifth overall pick. 

In return, the Flyers got defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick. On paper at first glance, it’s a win-win for both teams. The Anaheim Ducks receive an elite forward who is a very gifted goal scorer. Meanwhile, Philadelphia receives a defenseman who they value as a player with plenty of potential to help their power play, as well as a second-round pick in a deep draft. 

Either way, Briere needed to eventually get a top defenseman and a top center into the mix for the Flyers future. However you view Gauthier, he was that prospect that would have greatly impacted this team. 

Briere essentially swapped needs. Now, the need is on a new top center prospect, while the Flyers hope Drysdale develops into the top defenseman that they need. 

After reviewing everything months later, Gauthier did not want to be here. It’s as simple as that. His refusal to talk to anyone in the Flyers organization, including the likes of John LeClair, Patrick Sharp, and Briere put the team in a tight spot with no reasoning as to why Gauthier was making this decision. Considering the fact that none of this was made public prior to the trade is incredible work by Briere and his team. 

One issue with Drysdale is that he’s already had a significant injury history. A torn labrum sidelined him for essentially the entire 2022-23 season, and he missed time in his brief tenure with the Flyers in 2023-24. 

An optimistic way to look at it is that Briere and President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones feel if Drysdale was in their organization from the start, he wouldn’t have been rushed into the NHL as quickly as he was in Anaheim. Drysdale played in 24 games with the Flyers – 34 total for the 2023-24 NHL season – and averaged 18:48 of ice time. After the honeymoon phase went away, it was clear Drysdale still has plenty of work to do with the Flyers, but being patient with him is key. Trade Grade: B+

“The timeline that we put in place will still be in effect,” Briere said prior to the 2024 NHL trade deadline, “but if there is a trade, a hockey trade that makes sense, then we are open for business.” 

This is exactly the route Briere chose as he ultimately decided to trade Walker to the Colorado Avalanche. While Briere had to take on the $4 million cap hit of Ryan Johansen, who never played a game for the team and will likely end up on LTIR in the upcoming season, the positive takeaway from this trade is that Briere managed to get a first-round pick in return. After Chris Tanev was traded from Calgary to Dallas, and a first-round pick was not part of the return, the consensus was that there was no chance Walker would bring back the desired return. But Briere got creative and found a way to make it happen. 

While the first-round pick isn’t until 2025 and is Top-10 protected, the Flyers rookie GM completed his goal by acquiring one for a defenseman who was at one point merely a cap dump in the trade with LA. Trade Grade: A-

Briere made three other trades during the NHL trade deadline. The first one was merely being the third team involved in the trade sending Noah Hanifin to the Vegas Golden Knights. They did retain 50 percent of Hanifin’s salary ($2.475 million), but also received a 2024 fifth-round pick. Anytime you can get that for returning some salary for a limited time is a great way to manage assets. It’s a mid-round pick, but we will see how Briere and his scouts do with it. Trade Grade: B-

Erik Johnson is a nice veteran who had the opportunity to teach Drysdale, Cam York, and the other young defensemen some lessons after being traded to Philadelphia from the Buffalo Sabres. There is nothing wrong with acquiring a veteran at the deadline to help your team with experience and hopefully sneak into the playoffs. Unfortunately, it cost Briere a 2024 fourth-round pick. Johnson also did not play his best hockey while in Orange and Black. In 17 games, he was a minus-9 and averaged 16:25 of ice time. Trade Grade: D+

Wade Allison’s time was coming to an end and everybody knew it. The return was Denis Gurianov in a nice change-of-scenery hockey trade. The problem was that Gurianov barely played and saw limited ice time in only four games. It was a nice idea to acquire a young player, but he never saw much ice time, and did not capitalize on any opportunities. Briere revealed in his exit interviews that Gurianov is not likely to return. Trade Grade: D

Overall, Briere had a memorable rookie season as Flyers GM in the 2023-24 season, and it will only get more interesting in his second season. How will Briere’s second draft class look? Which players could be traded this offseason? Will Briere sign anybody in July that could have an impact on the roster? 

Only time will tell, and given Briere’s creativity and unpredictability, there’s no telling when the activity could start.

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