FanPost

Is the Daniel Briere signing as horrible as we thought?

Elsa

Over the last few days following the Danny Briere signing, Habs fans across the twitter-verse showcased their feelings over the roster move. Those emotions ranged anywhere from outrage and a complete loss of trust in Bergevin to disgust and indigestion (or maybe that was just the hangover from the 4th of July weekend for my fellow fans from the States). Nevertheless, the general response to the $4 million per year signing was overwhelmingly negative, but was that deserved?

I will admit I was one of the many that was perplexed by the signing. It seemed like a waste of money, he was washed up, old, and generally just a shitty player (or so I thought). However, as the next few days wore on and more and more players were signed for huge (often bloated) contracts, I started to reassess my position. After discussing with fellow fans my position, that we spent money on a middle-tier guy in a fairly weak market we would not have used otherwise, I decided to do some research into the matter. The first thing that stuck out to me was how SINGULARLY bad his season was last year. (I'm going to start using stats now, watch out). His production dropped from roughly 30 goals per 82 games in 2010-11 to 18 and 14 in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. That is a 40% reduction over the first year and 20% in the second year. Now I believe part of this could be due to age, but 40%?! That's essentially losing half of your skill in a year. I don't buy it.

On the face of it, I didn't think this was the issue either because his zone adjusted corsi was essentially carried by Wayne Simmonds in 2011-12 and then it flip-flopped in 2012-13 (he was essentially even with Brayden Schenn and Matt Read). Here are the break downs:

year

Corsi together

Briere Apart

Simmonds Apart

2011-12

47

45.2

47.9

2012-13

47.5

52.6

51.2

The disparity between Simmonds and Briere clearly shows the two did not see eye-to-eye. Wait a minute, why was Briere even playing with Simmonds in the first place? Wayne's normally not the first person I think of when I think good passing. Would I take him on my team? You bet, because he wins puck battles and scores goofey *cough* gritty goals, but that isn't Briere's specialty. Briere plays at his best when his team is controlling the zone and passing effectively, something the flyers may have done twice in the first half of the season before my roommates refused to continue watching hockey. The years before that? He was paired with Ville Leino/Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter/Scott Hartnell. In both cases he was significantly outperforming at least one of his counterparts.

year

Corsi Together

Briere Apart

Hartnell Apart

Leino Apart

Carter Apart

2009-10

48.7-49.4

48.2-50.2

48

45.5

NA

2010-11

52.5-54.2

51.6-54.5

51.4

NA

45.7

Obviously his teammates have not been great possession lineups. But even more surprising was that, last year, he inexplicably took more defensive zone starts than offensive zone starts. Seriously. Briere, the defensive juggernaut. 31.2 to 30.9. And yet he maintained an 8.23 shots/60 minutes, for comparison that's roughly the same as Lars Eller's 8.5. And even more astounding, it was 2.3 more than Desharnais' despite DD taking a whopping 38% of his starts in the offensive zone. (UGH)

Clearly, he was being under-utilized in Philadelphia, especially in the last few years; but does that mean he will be in a favorable situation here in Montreal? If we slot him into the exploitation line with Rene Bourque and David Desharnais and give him a better zone split, undoubtedly, yes. This should allow Briere to get back to scoring in and around the 20 goal 40 assist range, which a few percent under his career average.

If Briere manages 60 points that means for $4 million, we are paying roughly a half decent yearly salary, 67,000 dollars for each point (jeez, athletes make a lot of money). Valtterri Filppula is a career 42-pt/season player who recently made $25 million over five years ($120,000 a point). With regard to Tyler Bozak, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun was quoted as saying, "Nonis got him for $4.2 million a year, a job well done." Really LeBrun? He's paying almost $200k more for a guy who produces less, and is less suited for the role he was signed for. And that's not even going into possession metrics, but then again I doubt the analysts on ESPN do that either. Just in case you were wondering, though, Bozak was a putrid 28.6% (!!!) Corsi player without Phil Kessel. Yeah, really good job there, Nonis. Then again, what was I doing on ESPN for hockey analysis? I must have been lost.

Get back on track Brian *exhales*

Not to mention that this allows Patches to play alongside Plekanec and Gionta, which adds even more scoring and size to a formidable tough-minutes group. It also allows Prusty to shift back into a more traditional 4th-liner role with the potential to fill in in tight spots. And this is even before any of the speculated DD dumps and Jagr pick-ups... *drools*

The more I have been writing this piece, the more I really look forward to seeing what happens here.

All of my stats were garnered from espn.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com

Fanpost content is created by members of the community and is not published by the authors, editors, or manager of Eyes on the Prize.

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