Let's get some things out of the way right off the bat:
Firstly..... I know, I know, I know.... Bobby Ryan again?
Secondly.... read this recent short article as a quick primer: Ryan converting to center?
Thirdly... know that Danny Briere after this season will be owed $3 million in the 2013-14 and $2 million in the 2014-15 seasons.
Fourthly.... Getzlaf and Perry, their top line center and rightwinger are both owed new deals this offseason and Ryan is owed a new deal after 2015.
Fifthly.... the Ducks are 10-2-1 this season and suddenly appear poised to take a shot at Lord Stanley in what is an odd-season due to the lockout
Lastly... I am aware that Briere instead of guys like Couturier or Schenn being offered, at first sounds ridiculous. But consider if the Ducks decide they are trying to take a shot in an odd season at the Stanley Cup where they find themselves in an unexpectedly strong position. It does not appear that either Schenn or Couturier appear to be ready for the role of second-line center on a Stanley Cup winner, at least I wouldn't be trading Ryan on a hope that they could turn into that type of offensive player in a few months. The kind of player Briere has proven to be in the playoffs. It's likely that in addition to Briere the Flyers would need to offer picks/prospects. So be it, if it's outside guys like Couturier and Schenn.
Alright let's get to it.
The Ducks are on fire this season, which at first begs the question - why change anything right now? The answer is an obvious one that all GM's know - you always have to be trying to achieve that balance between winning right now and building towards the future.
This offseason the Ducks have both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the last year of their deals. Now perhaps the Ducks will just simply keep both of them, they appear to have the cap room, it's mostly dependent how they choose to set their own budget. The curious bit is that the above cited article mentions the Ducks still seeking a second-line center, so much so that they are considering converting career winger Bobby Ryan into one.
The Ducks have plenty of centers on staff after Getzlaf - Cogliano, Winnik, Bonino, and Saku Koivu. But if they're considering converting Bobby Ryan to center even with a 10-2-1 record, clearly they feel there is still a void to be filled on the team.
So let's come to the important question - why would Danny Briere be a fit?
1) Short Term
Briere is at his best playing the center position, he has plenty of playoff experience, and more importantly has been known to shine during that time of the season. For a team that might be looking to make a surprising Cup run and win right now, Briere could be viewed by the Ducks as a missing piece type of player.
Depending on if the Ducks are seeking to fit under a certain budget, he also makes sense in terms of a low risk, high reward solution at the second line center position. He's a top-six forward set to make only 5 million over the course of the next two seasons. Briere can not only help them win right now, but he's relatively low cost for his output, and low risk being he only has a couple years left on his deal.
2) Long Term
The Ducks could very well sign Getzlaf and Perry with raises and keep Ryan at his $5.1 million for the moment who is under contract through 2015. And why trade young Bobby Ryan for 35 year old Danny Briere? Well for one as previously stated as much Ryan brings the table, Briere could bring equal offensive ability and do it at a position they feel is a void - so strongly that they're considering converting Ryan's position.
Another reason is looking not from 2013-15, but past it. Ryan is a free agent after 2015 and with the raises Getzlaf and Perry could be getting this offseason, plus Ryan needing a new deal in the near future, will it be at that point that the Ducks would be concerned at being able to keep Ryan longterm?
If they are looking at a future without Bobby Ryan and in a position to win right now.... would it make sense then to trade him now rather than wait, to solve a position of need that could be the difference in a championship run? You always want to be building for the future, but keeping Getlzaf and Perry while trading for Briere, could be a nice combination of still keeping the future together while taking a shot at winning it all right now.
The questions working in conjunction with one another are: how close do the Ducks think they are right now? Do they think they are one position away? That a guy like Briere could be the difference? Do they think Ryan at center could work? Do they think they can keep Ryan longterm?
If you click on the above you see that right now the Ducks have Peter Holland listed as a second line center, Holland is listed here - Hockey Buzz Cap Roster - as a minor leaguer. That's where the Ducks are with their second-line center situation right now.
How important can establishing a complete second line in taking the Cup home? Look no further than the LA Kings last season who mortgaged a bit of their future by trading Wayne Simmonds and highly touted Brayden Schenn (although their futures remain to be seen) to get a win-now center in Mike Richards. Seemed to work out pretty well. And yes I'm aware of the difference in Richards and Briere's age, but the importance of a second-line center, which the Ducks are currently shuffling constantly, can't be overstated enough.
Jumping quickly to the Flyers. The reasons for them making this move are fairly straight forward. Give Giroux a young top-six forward winger to work with, maybe along with Hartnell on the top-line. Allow the McGinn-Schenn-Voracek line to stay together and place Simmonds and Read alongside of Couturier. Next season you'll have Laughton, Talbot and whoever else on the fourth line.
But this is all about the Ducks' willingness and it pretty much comes down to two things:
1) How close do the Ducks think they are to winning a Cup and how much do they want to take a shot at winning a Cup right now and trading for a win-right now center?
2) What do they consider their prospects of holding on Ryan, Getzlaf, and Perry past 2015 and if those prospects aren't good, would they use Ryan to get that second-line center they seem to feel they need even now at 10-2-1 for a Cup run, rather than wait and see what happens with Ryan?
I'll end with this - I understand that this is the kind of trade that Ducks fans would freak out about upon initially happening and critics asking what the hell were they thinking? But it could also be the kind of trade where Danny Briere lights it up at center in the playoffs with Selanne, behind Getlzaf and Perry, and the Ducks find themselves skating around with the Stanley Cup in June.
If you look at the Ducks roster they certainly seem to have the right mix of veterans, youth, and in their-prime players across the board to take a run at the Cup, even 42 year old Selanne and 38 year old Koivu are still playing at a high level, but that won't last too much longer.
Perhaps now is the time to capitalize on what seems to be a great combination of talent and experience in an abbreviated giddy-up and go right away season, a combination that could be quickly fleeting with guys like Selanne and Koivu. These days championship teams are usually the unexpected teams. Perhaps that's the Ducks this season. Perhaps they are just short that proven second-line center. Is that player Danny Briere? What is the value of the next two years of Bobby Ryan or whatever else they could trade him for (if they don't believe they can keep him) versus Danny Briere being that missing center to win a Cup right now?
Maybe the Ducks will laugh at the offer or maybe at the trade deadline they'll decide they can and want to win right now, and take a moment to consider that Briere and his playoff track record could be just what they're missing at a position they are currently unable to fill.