Even if his Philadelphia Flyers are undoubtedly the most surprising team in the NHL since the start of the season, Daniel Brière does not intend to sacrifice draft picks or prospects to improve the team in the short term.

“We’re not going to be buyers (at the trade deadline),” he told reporters in Philadelphia this week. The team is playing well, but we will not give up any assets to try for a breakthrough. We are not there yet. »

With only two defeats in regulation time in their last ten games, the Flyers now occupy third place in the metropolitan section with a record of 16-10-3. They are two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the last club excluded from the playoffs, with two more games to play.

The expression rebuild can take several forms. For some, like the Chicago Blackhawks or the San Jose Sharks, the exercise consists of liquidating your players, hoping for a few seasons in the cellar of the rankings and drafting as high as possible.

For the Flyers, or the Canadian, for example, it is a question of beginning a phase of rejuvenation, without shaving the foundations. We jettison a few unwanted veterans, we amass as many draft picks and prospects as possible, and if we happen to win, against all odds, we stick to the plan and don’t take any shortcuts, not for several years, the time to see the new core gain maturity.

“We always think long term,” Brière continued. We want to build a club that aspires to the playoffs season after season. That’s always the plan. Some players are showing us that they can be part of this plan. »

Rebuilding was never envisioned by the old guard, led by a triumvirate of former legends Paul Holmgren, Bob Clarke and Bill Barber. We even rather hated this expression.

But the arrival in February of a new CEO, Daniel Hilferty, the hiring of Brière as general manager, of Keith Jones as president, and a new redefinition of the roles for Holmgren, Clarke and Barber, less influential than by the past, if not barely, have changed the dynamic in Philadelphia.

The Flyers probably had no choice, having won only one round of the playoffs in the last eleven seasons, including seven exclusions, four in the last five years.

After two miserable seasons, Philadelphia landed the fifth overall pick in 2022. They landed American colossus Cutter Gauthier, transformed from winger to center at Boston College, where he had 23 points, including 13 goals, in 17 games this season.

Brière and the Flyers recruiters took a certain risk by drafting Russian forward Matvei Michkov in seventh place last summer, shunned by the first clubs to choose because of his disinterest in defensive play and sometimes irreverent behavior behind the scenes , but the young man continues to produce offensively in the KHL with 26 points in 29 games in Sochi, an astonishing output for a 19-year-old. However, he is under contract in Russia until 2026, so we will have to wait a few more years.

Philadelphia also received a second 2023 first-round pick, the 22nd overall, from the Blue Jackets, sending defenseman Ivan Provorov to Columbus. They also received a second-round pick in 2024 in the exercise. They chose former hockey player Radek Bonk’s son, right-handed defenseman Oliver Bonk of the London Knights, 30 points in 28 games so far in the Ontario Junior League. Bonk will represent Canada at the World Junior Championship.

The Flyers also hold two first-round picks in the 2024 draft, their own and that of the Florida Panthers, obtained in the transaction for Claude Giroux two years ago.

Philadelphia does not have a core to break everything with a top 6 offensive consisting of Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Tyson Foerster, Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson, with Cam York, Travis Sanheim, Nick Seeler and Sean Walker in the first defensive quartet, but coach John Tortorella seems to get the most out of his troops.

And Brière seems truly intractable in his desire not to accelerate the growth of his team as his predecessor Chuck Fletcher did, a master in the art of squandering draft picks on marginal players.

By refusing to take shortcuts, Daniel Brière wants to avoid the mistakes of some of his colleagues in recent years. There are more of them than you might think.

In 2019, the Arizona Coyotes were in the Flyers’ position. A team still rebuilding, but surprising. Then-GM John Chayka traded first and third round picks to the New Jersey Devils, and young giant defenseman Kevin Bahl for Taylor Hall, a potential unrestricted free agent.

The Coyotes lost in the first round and Hall was gone a few months later. The Devils drafted Dawson Mercer 18th overall in 2020 with the first round pick and Bahl is now a regular on defense for the Devils.

In July 2021, the Vancouver Canucks and GM Jim Benning sacrificed their first round pick, 9th overall, and second and seventh round picks to obtain defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland. Benning also took the opportunity to let go of some big employees. Vancouver hasn’t made the playoffs since and we bought out Ekman-Larsson’s contract last summer. The Coyotes drafted forward Dylan Guenther with this pick.

Closer to home, Pierre Dorion gave up first-round picks in 2022 (7th overall) and 2023 (12th overall) for Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun.

What do Arizona, Vancouver and Ottawa have in common? These three general managers are no longer employed today and these three clubs have never made the playoffs since then, although Vancouver, with its new administration, finally seems to be on the path to doing so.