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Trade breakdown: Parenteau-Briere swap

6/30/2014

We admit we’ve had a soft spot for P.A. Parenteau for a number of years. We've enjoyed our infrequent chats with him and, more importantly, have admired his never-say-die attitude toward his career.

The 31-year-old native of Hull, Quebec, was drafted 264th overall in the 2001 draft by Anaheim and then traded to Chicago, for whom he played just five games. Then he went to the New York Rangers for 22 games before the New York Islanders signed him as a free agent.

Parenteau blossomed on Long Island into a solid, productive forward with 20-plus-goal potential. The Isles curiously eschewed a chance to keep him in the fold (how often has that been said of the misguided franchise?), and Parenteau signed a four-year deal with Colorado in summer 2012. But there were persistent rumors the Avs were looking to move him over the past year or so. And so it was that Monday afternoon, Parenteau returned to the Eastern Conference when Montreal acquired him and a fifth-round draft pick in next June’s draft for veteran center Daniel Briere.

Parenteau has two years left on his deal with a $4 million cap hit, and he should get an opportunity to play top-six minutes and earn some power-play time for coach Michel Therrien as GM Marc Bergevin continues to massage the Habs' lineup. It’s believed that, along with Briere’s departure, captain Brian Gionta will not return. It's also a given that Thomas Vanek, acquired at the deadline, won’t be back.

Briere, meanwhile, never quite fit in the way he’d hoped when he signed a two-year deal with the Canadiens last summer. The 36-year-old had just 13 goals for the Habs and found his role was significantly reduced by the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. But although he was playing down in the lineup, he showed once again why he is considered a top-money player when he chipped in three goals and seven assists in 16 postseason games as the Habs made a surprise appearance in the Eastern Conference finals.

Given the Avs’ first-round collapse against Minnesota, where they failed to hold 2-0 and 3-2 series leads, the addition of Briere can be seen as part of the big-picture plan to make the Avs into a playoff force. The Avs possess tremendous potential with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and Ryan O'Reilly -- all 23 or younger. But there is the issue of balancing that youthfulness with some veteran stability, and Briere, who was an important veteran presence with young players in Philadelphia before moving on to the Habs, should bring that element to the Avs' locker room.

One has to wonder whether the addition of a center is also an insurance policy for the Avs against the real possibility that center Paul Stastny will sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.