Joe Quenneville, Antti Niemi, Michael Leighton

Why this year’s Philadelphia Flyers look an awful lot like last season’s Chicago Blackhawks

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It wasn’t always pretty – after all, they needed a shootout win over the New York Rangers on the last game of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot – but the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers found a way to mesh together, bought into new coach’s Peter Laviolette’s system and finished two wins away from a Stanley Cup.

While this might paint the picture in the broadest strokes, there were two ways the Flyers could have reacted this season: 1) by fading into oblivion, thus proving that they merely got hot at the right time or 2) prove that they are a genuine contender with a great season. It seems like they went with option two, considering the fact that Philadelphia is the top team in the Eastern Conference right now.

In fact, the 2010-11 Flyers might be in a remarkably similar situation as the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks team that thwarted them for the ’10 championship. Let’s take a look at the intriguing similarities between the two teams, starting with the most important shared characteristic. For the sake of honest discussion, I’ll also discuss a few key differences that keep the two teams’ similarities from being Sedin twins-level creepy.

Long term core, short term depth

Last season, it seemed like the Blackhawks’ salary cap situation would be even more crippling than it ended up being. Yet they still lost some crucial pieces, particularly Dustin Byfuglien and (admittedly struggling) goalie Antti Niemi.

The Flyers don’t face the same dire situation (CapGeek.com estimates their 2011-12 cap space to be more than $3.64 million with 17 roster spots covered), but Philly will likely lose some of their impressive depth players during the next summer or two.

Ville Leino (unrestricted) and Andreas Nodl (restricted) are free agents this summer along with steady, affordable goalie Brian Boucher. Valuable defensemen Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle will be unrestricted free agents while James van Riemsyk – the second overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft –  will be a restricted free agent in July 2012. Leino and JVR are particularly likely to see considerable raises, which might price them out of Philly.

In other words, the Flyers boast an outstanding group of top-end players such as Mike Richards and Jeff Carter – much like the Blackhawks still employ Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith – but they’ll only be able to boast almost unfair depth for another season or two.

Laviolette = Joel Quenneville

However you feel about the dismissal of John Stevens, the Flyers are clearly a better hockey team under Laviolette. Much like coach Q, the feisty former Carolina Hurricanes bench boss arrived with instant credibility (and a Cup from his time with the ‘Canes). It’s a telling pattern that talented teams flourish with some new blood, from Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh to Bruce Boudreau in Washington and Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay.

Sergei Bobrovsky = Antti Niemi?

Cristobal Huet was supposed to be the man in Chicago. Michael Leighton was supposed to make good on his surprise Cup run this season. Yet Niemi eventually usurped the pricey Huet and Bobrovsky took advantage of Leighton’s poorly timed injury issues to nab the No. 1 gig.

The best part for Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren is the big difference between the two: while Niemi’s contract expired last summer, Bobrovsky’s entry-level deal won’t run out until the 2012-13 season concludes. (Of course, there’s that other major difference: Niemi already won Chicago a Cup.)

Losing to a champion

I’m not sure if the cliche is as valid in the unpredictable days of the salary cap, but many people think that a team “needs to learn how to lose before they learn how to win.”

There’s some truth to that in the way the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins fell to the Detroit Red Wings before winning Cups the last two seasons. Perhaps the Flyers will take that lessons learned from losing to Chicago and win a Cup this season?

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So as the Flyers and Blackhawks play for the first time since the two teams grappled in the Cup finals, forgive some double-takes in Chicago. It’s just that they might feel like they’re looking back at their 09-10 selves (only in black, white and orange jerseys).

PHT’s 2017 Trade Deadline Tracker

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Here’s the full list of deals made prior to the Wednesday, March 1 3 p.m. EST trade deadline..

Mar. 1

To Nashville: F P.A. Parenteau
To New Jersey: 6th-round draft pick (link)

To Tampa Bay: D Mark Streit
To Philadelphia: F Valtteri Filppula, ’17 4th-round pick, ’17 conditional 7th-round pick (link)

To Montreal: F Andreas Martinsen
To Colorado: F Sven Andrighetto (link)

To Columbus: D Kyle Quincey
To New Jersey: D Dalton Prout (link)

To New York Rangers: F Taylor Beck
To Edmonton Oilers: F Justin Fontaine (link)

To Tampa Bay: G Mike McKenna
To Florida: G Adam Wilcox (link)

To Los Angeles: F Jarome Iginla
To Colorado: ’18 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To Montreal: F Dwight King
To Los Angeles: ’18 4th-round pick (link)

To Florida: F Thomas Vanek
To Detroit: ’17 3rd-round pick, D Dylan McIlrath (link)

To Colorado: G Joe Cannata
To Washington: D Cody Corbett (link)

To Colorado: F Brendan Ranford
To Arizona: F Joe Whitney (link)

Feb. 28

To Montreal: F Steve Ott
To Detroit: ’18 6th-round pick (link)

To San Jose: F Jannik Hansen
To Vancouver: F Nikolay Goldobin, ’17 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To Edmonton: F David Desharnais
To Montreal: D Brandon Davidson (link)

To Chicago: D Johnny Oduya
To Dallas: F Mark McNeill, ’18 conditional 4th-round pick (link)

To New York Rangers: F Daniel Catenacci
To Buffalo: D Mat Bodie (link)

To Ottawa: F Viktor Stalberg
To Carolina: ’17 3rd-round pick (link)

To New York Rangers: D Brendan Smith
To Detroit: ’17 3rd-round pick, ’18 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 27

To Washington: D Kevin Shattenkirk, G Pheonix Copley
To St. Louis: F Zach Sanford, F Brad Malone, ’17 1st-round pick, ’19 conditional 2nd-round pick (link)

To Ottawa: F Alex Burrows
To Vancouver: F Jonathan Dahlen (link)

To Montreal: D Jordie Benn
To Dallas: D Greg Pateryn, ’17 4th-round pick (link)

To Toronto: F Brian Boyle
To Tampa Bay: F Byron Froese, ’17 2nd-round pick (link)

To Arizona: F Teemu Pulkkinen
To Minnesota: Future considerations (link)

Feb. 26

To Minnesota: F Martin Hanzal, F Ryan White, ’17 4th-round pick
To Arizona: ’17 1st-round pick, ’18 2nd-round pick, ’19 conditional 4th-round pick, F Grayson Downing (link)

To Los Angeles: G Ben Bishop, ’17 5th-round pick
To Tampa Bay: G Peter Budaj, D Erik Cernak, ’17 7th-round pick, ’17 conditional pick (link)

Feb. 24

To Anaheim: F Patrick Eaves
To Dallas: ’17 conditional 2nd-round pick (link)

To Chicago: F Tomas Jurco
To Detroit: ’17 3rd-round pick (link)

Feb. 23

To Pittsburgh: D Ron Hainsey
To Carolina: F Danny Kristo, ’17 2nd-round pick (link)

Feb. 20

To Calgary: D Michael Stone
To Arizona: ’18 3rd-round pick, ’18 conditional 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 18

To Toronto: F Sergey Kalinin
To New Jersey: D Viktor Loov (link)

Feb. 15

To Washington: D Tom Gilbert
To Los Angeles: ’17 conditional 5th-round pick (link)

Feb. 4

To Nashville: F Vernon Fiddler
To New Jersey: ’17 4th-round pick (link)

Preds add some scoring, get Parenteau from Devils

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  PA Parenteau #11 of the New Jersey Devils in action against the Buffalo Sabres at the Prudential Center on November 12, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Sabres 4-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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New Jersey and Nashville got together on a trade for the second time this month, with the Preds acquiring veteran winger P.A. Parenteau in exchange for a sixth-round pick, per TSN.

Earlier, the Devils sent veteran center Vernon Fiddler to the Preds for a fourth-rounder.

Parenteau, 33, joined the Devils after getting scooped off waivers from the Isles at the start of the campaign. He’s produced well, with 14 goals and 33 points in 55 games, but there have been ups and downs in New Jersey, including a healthy scratch in mid-December.

Parenteau carries a modest $1.3 million cap hit, so it’s a minimal financial commitment for the Preds. He’s also got a bit of playoff experience — 15 games, split between Montreal and Colorado — which will help a Nashville club currently sitting third in the Central Division.

Lightning keep dealing, send Filppula to Flyers for Mark Streit

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Tampa Bay Lightning backhands a shot against Florida Panthers during the overtime period at the Amalie Arena on October 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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With the Tampa Bay Lightning mired in a disappointing season, general manager Steve Yzerman has spent the past couple of days selling off his upcoming free agents, including Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and Brian Boyle to Toronto.

On Wednesday, he managed to clear a significant amount of salary cap space for next season.

That is when the Lightning sent forward Valtteri Filppula, a 2017 fourth-round pick, and a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick, to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Mark Streit.

Both players had no-trade clauses in their contracts and had to OK the deal. It came after it was reported that Filppula had rejected a trade to Toronto. Streit is an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Flyers are also picking up 10 percent of Streit’s remaining contract for this season.

The key to this deal for Tampa Bay should seem pretty obvious: Clearing salary cap space in the future.

He is having a nice enough season for the Lightning offensively with 34 points in 59 games, but he still carries a $5 million salary cap hit for next season. That presented a significant problem for a Lightning team that has a ton of key players in need of new contracts — including restricted free agents Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin — and not a lot of cap space to take care of them all. The Lightning needed to find a way to shed some salary to ensure they can keep them.

With Streit’s contract expiring after this season, the Lightning just opened up $5 million in cap space for next season and all Yzerman had to do was give up a couple of late round draft picks to do it.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have spent their deadline day adding a lot of salary to next year’s cap. Along with picking up Filppula’s deal, they also re-signed forward Piere-Edouard Bellemare and goalie Michal Neuvirth to two-year contract extensions.

Hansen adds more speed to Sharks, who were already faster

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 16: Jannick Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks carries a puck during their NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on January 16, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks couldn’t handle the Pittsburgh Penguins’ speed.

And so, after losing the Stanley Cup Final in six games, the Sharks decided they had to get faster.

First came the signing of winger Mikkel Boedker, whose “tremendous speed is his best attribute,” said GM Doug Wilson on July 1.

The Sharks also signed defenseman David Schlemko, who brought “puck-movement speed” to the third pairing, in the words of head coach Pete DeBoer. 

Then, when the season started, there was a quasi-youth movement, as players like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier received opportunities with the big club.

And finally, last night, the Sharks acquired right winger Jannik Hansen in a trade that sent Nikolay Goldobin to Vancouver.

“Jannik is a versatile, gritty player who plays with speed and is talented on both sides of the puck,” said Wilson. “We think he is a perfect fit for the style of our team, which has earned the right for us to make this move and add to our NHL roster as we push towards the playoffs.”

Wilson probably undersold Hansen’s speed a touch. Even at 30 years old, Hansen is still very fast.

Where DeBoer puts his newest player remains to be seen. On the third line with Tomas Hertl is one possibility. That could bump Joel Ward down to the fourth line, which may be a better spot for the 36-year-old who’s struggled offensively this season.

The thing about Hansen is that he’s versatile enough to play up and down the lineup. In Vancouver, he started out as a checker. Eventually, he was skating with the Sedins on the top scoring line.

The Sharks’ next game is tomorrow at home against, of all teams, the Vancouver Canucks.

Related: The Penguins played great defense their own way