The Blues have more salary cap space than any team in the National Hockey League today, more than $20 million.
The franchise is operating on a tight budget. But the new Tom Stillman ownership group would consider adding some salary this spring if the right trade opportunity presented itself.
So general manager Doug Armstrong has hit the road to survey some possibilities. His regular presence at Flyers games leads the Philadelphia Daily News to believe he ready to do some business with a team looking to make changes.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is feeling some heat with his big-budget team struggling. This man loves to sign players to comically oversized contracts and then dump them so he can sign different players to comically oversized contracts.
How Holmgren keeps his job doing this year after a year is a mystery, but, hey, good for him.
If Holmgren could convince Danny Briere to waive his full no-movement clause – which would take some doing – the Blues would have to at least consider the scenario.
Here is why:
- A recent five-game point streak reminded us that Briere, 35, can still generate offense during the twilight of his career.
- He is small (generously listed at 5-foot-10) but tenacious and somewhat versatile. It would not be hard to imagine him fitting into Ken Hitchcock’s system.
- The Flyers could can $6.5 million in annual cap space by moving him. That would help this season and really help them handle the upcoming cap reduction.
- Holmgren would love to create the cap space needed to add significant help on the blue line. The franchise is still reeling from the loss of Chris Pronger to post-concussion syndrome.
- The Blues could afford the back end of Briere’s contract — it's not onerous. He will make $3 million next season and $2 million in 2014-15.
- Holmgren just added old friend Simon Gagne for a draft pick, so that could help offset the Briere subtraction.
- The Blues just lost forward Andy McDonald to a lower-body injury after losing Vladimir Tarasenko to a concussion. Their admirable offensive depth took a big hit.
- Neither Phil McRae or Evgeny Grachev progressed at Peoria this season, so the Blues won't get an offensive boost from the minors this season. Armstrong will have to look outside the organization.
Of course, all of this speculation means nothing unless Briere agreed to leave Philadelphia. Right now he does not seem so inclined.
“I don't want to comment on anything at this point,” Briere told the Daily News. “Trades are not my department. I've been a Flyer for a long time. My heart belongs in Philadelphia with the Flyers. I can't see myself playing anywhere else.”
Look for lots of trade activity during the weeks ahead. Some teams are looking to add talent to boost their playoff hopes and other teams are trying to clean up their long-range payroll.
That inspired the Canadiens to move Erik Cole and his remaining contract (two more years at $4 million per season, with a cap hit of $4.5 million per year) to Dallas for Michael Ryder and his expiring contract.
That deal was a master stroke for Montreal GM Marc Bergevin, who gained payroll flexibility while clearing out a twilight-year winger. As for Dallas, this deal proved that teams will go to extremes to add some size and toughness up front.
AROUND THE RINKS: With Andrew Murray up in St. Louis on an emergency recall, a tough season for Peoria in the AHL got that much tougher . . . Much-discussed former Capitals winger Alexander Semin almost scored a short-handed goal for the Hurricanes Tuesday night in Washington. That would have chilled some of the chatter about what a bad guy he was in D.C. Instead, Braden Holtby made the save and the Capitals rolled to a 3-0 victory to get the last laugh . . . Teams looking to add an offensive defenseman could do worse than Ryan Whitney, who landed on the trade block after struggling for Edmonton this season. He is reasonably healthy (for a change) had he offers high-end skill . . . Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin has begun recovering from his concussion, but it is much too early to guess on a timetable for this return . . . Power forward Shane Doan is glad he stuck it out with the broke Coyotes, who keep winning despite their lack of resources . . . Scouts have had to change their tune on Our Town's Ben Bishop, who worked hard for his long-awaited NHL breakthrough.