Trading Briere a no-brainer for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens traded Daniel Briere to the Colorado Avalanche for P.A. Parenteau and a 5th round pick in 2015.

Marc Bergevin sure knows how to shift a conversation, doesn’t he?

The Montreal Canadiens GM didn’t seem to be having the best of Mondays when news spread that respected veteran Josh Gorges had invoked his partial no-trade clause to block a deal to the Toronto Maple Leafs. There was ample talk of the Habs bumbling the situation and — who knows? — maybe that chatter will return soon.

But for now, how ’bout that deal with Colorado?

Bergevin acquired the younger, bigger and better player in a trade that saw Montreal acquire P. A. Parenteau—and a fifth-round pick—from the Avalanche for Daniel Briere. The trade seemed so one-sided, it immediately prompted questions about whether Colorado had made it simply because Briere, with one year left on his contract as opposed to Parenteau’s two, was cheaper to buy out. Multiple sources have said that is not going to happen and this is simply a case of two guys who weren’t trusted by their respective coaches getting a fresh start.

Patrick Roy was just named coach of the year, so far be it from us to question his ability to extract the most from players. Still, you can’t help but wonder what’s left to mine from Briere. Justifiably celebrated for his big-game past, Briere fell out of favour almost immediately under Montreal coach Michel Therrien this past season and spent many nights playing single-digit minutes in a fourth-line role. True to form, he livened up a little in the playoffs but still saw just 10 minutes per night. In truth, Bergevin’s decision to sign Briere to a two-year, $8-million deal last summer stood out as the one obvious blunder on his resume in Montreal.

Now, he seems to have corrected it.

The Avs jumped on Parenteau two summers ago, after he had a career-high 67 points playing beside John Tavares with the New York Islanders in 2011-12. He posted the equivalent of a 30-goal season during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign but fell out of favour once Roy took over the Colorado bench.

Both players account for a $4-million cap hit, with Parenteau’s running through 2015-16. Maybe Roy and the Avs believe Briere never got a fair shake in Montreal, but that seems like an optimistic take on a player who turns 37 three days before Colorado’s first game next October. Briere’s last productive year came when he put up 68 points during the 2010-11 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, and even when the Canadiens inked him last summer, many suggested he’d become someone who could possibly help your power play and not much else.

Parenteau, meanwhile, will get a terrific opportunity to rediscover his touch in Montreal because the team is in the market for offence. The 31-year-old, who was previously linked to trade rumours involving the Habs around February’s trade deadline, can help fill a big hole on right wing, especially if Canadiens captain Brian Gionta walks as a free agent.

Either way, two players mired in less-than-ideal circumstances last season are getting fresh starts—but only one seems like a good candidate to exploit it.

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