Compliance buyouts can be looked at one of two ways: teams are cutting dead weight, or players signed to unreasonable contracts (that they had to be nuts to decline) now have a chance to play for a more reasonable cost. Either you view a buyout as indicative of performance or indicative of stupidity.
Danny Briere's buyout might be a little of both. The 35 year old center was signed to an eight year contract back in 2007 for a hit of $6,500,000 a season. His numbers were good, though probably not deserving of that kind of pay, up until last season. He finished a shortened year with six goals and ten assists. Of course, you could argue that the previous year's 16 goals and 33 assists was probably the start of the drop off in relation to the value of the contract. Honestly speaking, when looking at Briere's regular-season performance, it's no better than what the Blues have managed to get from at least one or two players each season at a fraction of the cost.
Which is to say, probably, if the Blues signed him for a couple million and he continued his production or increased it a bit, he'd fit nicely into the status quo. The hiccup is his age. Thirty five is obviously on the waning end of a hockey career. A couple more seasons would put him at Jamie Langenbrunner levels of "still trying, but please retire so you're remembered for who you were, not who you've become." Does that decrease his usefulness? No, but it should serve as a reminder that the end of a player's career is a crapshoot. Signing Briere is a roll of the dice.
Where Briere turns it on, or probably more than turns it on (whatever that would be) is in the playoffs. Guy plays at a whole different level - a level that no one on the Blues has reached, except maybe Andy McDonald in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. In the Flyers' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Briere scored 12 goals and 18 assist in 23 games; had the Flyers won the Cup, you could have made a good argument that he deserved the Conn Smythe.
The Blues are obviously lacking in that extra spark that's needed in the playoffs. The kids are old enough to know what to do; it's not that they need someone in the locker room to teach them or show them how to go out there and plow through a round or two. They need someone who will actually do that so maybe the others will follow suit. McDonald did it, and the rest of the team was strong in the series against the Sharks. No one stepped up against the KIngs the last two seasons, and what happened? The rest of the team stood around, knowing what they needed to do, but for whatever reason not being able to. They were frozen.
Briere could be considered a playoff ice breaker. If the Blues do sign him, and you know if they do it'll be at a reasonable price, then that's the expectations that fans should have. He'll fit into the status quo during the regular season, and maybe motivate the rest of the guys to play in the playoffs. Is a couple million and a couple years good for a guy at the end of his career? If it helps the Blues actually play when the competition's tough, sure. Just don't have inflated expectations of him for the other 82 games of the year. This isn't Danny Briere c. 2007. The Blues don't need that; they can make the playoffs with what they have. It's obvious that they need to get past the first couple playoff rounds - that's the stumbling block. Consider Briere a stepping stone.