By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 20: March 11, 2003 – The Sabres trade Chris Gratton and a fourth-round draft choice in 2004 (Liam Reddox) to Phoenix for Daniel Briere and a third-round draft choice in 2004 (Andrej Sekera).
Daniel Briere had been a pretty good player for the Coyotes in 2001-02, scoring 32 goals and 28 assists. He was close to those numbers a year later when the trading deadline approach. Still, he was 5-9 and 174 pounds, and a good big man was considered to be more valuable than a good small man.
Therefore, the Coyotes didn’t hang up when general manager Darcy Regier called to talk about a trade for Briere. The Sabres offered Chris Gratton, who hadn’t fulfilled the potential he showed as a power forward in his early 20s for Tampa Bay. When a couple of draft choices were added, the deal was completed.
Briere was a good situation right away in Buffalo, scoring 65 points in 2003-04. Then came a lockout, which wiped out the next season, but the league’s players returned in the fall of 2004 which had changed some rules in an attempt to add speed to the game. It was a perfect fit for Briere, who scored 58 points in 48 games that season. Then in 2006-07, Briere lifted his game to a career-high 95 points. It probably was the best deal ever made by Regier, and it would have been even better if the Sabres had signed the forward to a contract. But he left for Philadelphia as a free agent.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)