Here’s an interesting possibility that’s come up.
The Philadelphia Flyers did Philadelphia Flyers things today, signing 36-year-old Mark Streit to a four-year contract worth $21M. It’s a big number, it’s four years, and we know that the Flyers can’t possibly fit this team under the salary cap.
That team simply has more money than brains, and after the ill-advised decision to sign Ilya Bryzgalov two summers ago, it’s looking like a certainty that he’ll be out. Darren Dreger and Bob MacKenzie have each theorized that the second amnesty buy-out used by the Flyers will be on centreman Danny Briere.
I’ve been using a term known as “Scott Gomez disease” for a while now. Scott Gomez disease afflicts a player who is so overpaid and has such heightened expectations that when he fails to meet them, he’s deemed worthless.
Two players so far have received amnesty buy-outs under the current CBA: Gomez and Wade Redden. Gomez had a $7,357,143 AAV according to Capgeek, and after being bought-out with one-and-a-half years left on the deal, Gomez’ salary was cut 950% after signing a one-year, $700K deal with the San Jose Sharks.
Redden, who was making $6,500,000 a year in AAV but playing with the Hartford Wolfpack/Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League, was bought out because the New York Rangers could no longer bury his salary in the minors. He’s not a bad defenceman, but signed such a silly contract that no defenceman could have lived up to. He signed in St. Louis for $1,000,000, a reduction of 550%, and wound up in Boston after the trade deadline. He’s now hurt.
Here’s the thing with Briere… he’s coming off two bleak offensive seasons, and there shouldn’t be too many teams that will line up to give him a second big contract, particularly since so many of the teams with money are going to be undergoing a cap crunch this summer.
Eric T. who contributes for NHL Numbers, wrote a post at Broad St. Hockey yesterday looking at how, in a way, looking at process is more important than looking at straight results. When you’re looking at things like goal rate and point rate for forwards, you have to factor in that there’s a lot of noise involved with On-ice Sh% or Individual Points Percentage. Basically, the amount of shots that go in when a player is on the ice or the percentage of goals a player records a point on. For forwards, there is some talent that you can notice, but it takes years to manifest itself.
Now, you could see Briere having put up 0.47 points per game last season, his lowest total since 2001. His 0.70 points per game rate in 2011-2012 was his third lowest since 1999. You could make the case that Briere is on the decline, but if you combine two years together with the numbers available at Hockey Analysis, I think the drop is much less pronounced:
|Flyers GF/20*||Flyers SF/20*||Briere On-Ice Sh%||Briere IPP||Briere Points/60|
* – Indicates game state with Danny Briere on the ice.
Obviously, Briere is nowhere close to being a point-a-game player ever again and his days as a superstar are long gone. That said, in the absence of a lot of surefire options for a No. 1 centreman to replace Tyler Bozak (negotiations have thankfully gone South), perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs ought to kick tires at Daniel Briere. His Individual Points Percentage over the last two seasons is much lower than his norm, as is the Flyers’ shooting percentage when Briere is on the ice.
Perhaps we can expect these things to dip, but given that we’re combining two years of data, I’d expect a drop in those to be less pronounced. There’s probably a lot of noise in the sample. Assume a regressed on-ice shooting rate of, say, 9% (I’m simply averaging the first three columns) and an IPP of 72.9%. That would raise Briere’s even strength points per 60 from 1.44 to 1.95. That would be higher than every Leaf save for Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
Furthermore, the Flyers’ shots for rate with Briere on the ice over the last two years beats out every Leaf save for Lupul, van Riemsdyk and Kessel. Tyler Bozak over the same span is at 9.766 per 20 minutes. Oddly enough, Bozak is probably going to land more money on the open market than Briere because he’s younger and not coming off two distinctly bad production seasons.
The questions at this point are a) will he come cheap and b) would he maybe retire if a one-year contract is the best he can do. Briere has made a lot of money since joining the Flyers so you may have to massage his competitive juices to get him back out on the ice.
I asked Eric about it, and he came up with this: “I hate speculation about when a player should or will retire, because we have no idea what his personal motivations are. But how many guys come off $50+M deals and sign for $1M on a team that isn’t a top contender?”
Eric, as usual, has a point. But Briere shouldn’t have too many dance partners. If he wants to play for another season or so, he may be worth taking a shot at if there aren’t any clearer options available.
This is going to be an interesting process to follow. I think Briere still has one or two good years in him. Not great years, but good ones. For more on the Streit signing, Sean Gentille as the Sporting News is quick on the draw as always.