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Numbers Game: Canadiens bring in Briere

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Scott Cullen
7/4/2013 5:59:48 PM
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The Montreal Canadiens landed a veteran scoring forward with playoff experience, who had been bought out of his previous contract.

Numbers Game looks at the Canadiens' acquisition of Danny Briere.

The Canadiens Get: RW Danny Briere.

Briere, 35, has been a very productive player, scoring at least 24 goals in eight of his 13-plus NHL seasons, but he's coming off a season in which he had 16 points and was minus-13, with subpar possession numbers, in 34 games, prompting the Flyers to buy out the final two years of his contract.

Wrist and concussion injuries cost Briere 14 games last season and he missed a dozen the year before for a variety of reasons, including another concussion, so there are naturally health concerns for a smaller forward who is in his mid-30s. He also played 16:04 per game last season, his lowest time on ice per game since 2001-2002 so, coupled with his career-low scoring rate (0.47 ppg), there is ample evidence that Briere is on the decline.

What the Canadiens can hope for is that Briere can have his minutes focused on the offensive end and remain a productive power play contributor -- he scored 102 of his 283 over six seasons in Philadelphia with the man advantage -- so that he is a viable source of secondary scoring. Briere has also been a sensational playoff performer, tallying 109 points in 108 career playoff games, ranking sixth among active skaters in playoff points per game (and the top five aren't available).

Signed to a two-year deal for $8-million, Briere will play in a scoring role for the Canadiens, but expectations have to be kept in check. Once a player starts to decline in his mid-30s, it's rare that they recapture previous form, so either the Canadiens will have to hope Briere is an exception, perhaps able to bounce back with a full NHL training camp and season (as opposed to the lockhout-shortened variety) or they are prepared for him to effectively be a specialist, providing secondary offence and just waiting for the playoffs to make a real difference over the next two years.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Danny Briere (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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