Jason Brough

Filppula makes immediate impact for Flyers


Perhaps when we look back, it’ll be one of those win-win trades.

In sending Valtteri Filppula to Philadelphia, and then flipping Mark Streit to Pittsburgh, the Tampa Bay Lightning certainly got what they wanted, and that was cap space to sign their pending restricted free agents, which include Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Jonathan Drouin.

For the Flyers, they got a veteran center in Filppula, with no commitment beyond next season.

“This kid gives us flexibility because centers are really hard to find,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “Most teams have four or five centermen. This kid gives up depth and options. He is highly competitive and competes on pucks. He makes plays.”

Filppula made an immediate impact last night in his Philadelphia debut, going hard to the net to tip home a Brayden Schenn pass. The 32-year-old’s goal tied the game halfway through the third period, and the Flyers went on to beat the Panthers, 2-1, in the shootout.

“He’s a very good player on the puck and he has a heavy stick,” linemate Jakub Voracek said of Filppula, per CSN Philly. “For me and Schenner, it’s important to have the puck on our stick most part of the game.”

The addition of Filppula also allows Sean Couturier to center the third line and focus on a shut-down role. It may even take some of the scoring pressure off Claude Giroux.

With only 19 games left, it’s going to take a strong push from the Flyers to book a spot in the playoffs. According to Sports Club Stats, they’ll have to go in the neighborhood of 12-4-3 to give themselves a good chance.

But this is a team that’s already shown it can get hot and string together a number of wins.

The Flyers kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in Washington, so they’d better be ready for a test.

Duchene’s contract could complicate things for Avs


Any team that acquires Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche will want to keep him for more than two years.

And therein lies a potential problem for Avs GM Joe Sakic. Duchene is only signed for two more seasons, and he’s not eligible to ink an extension until the summer of 2018.

To illustrate, here’s a tidbit from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

If Duchene was eligible for an extension and the Carolina Hurricanes believed they could get it done, my best guess is he’d be there. But the Hurricanes weren’t paying the price for a two-year gamble.

Now, this does not mean that Sakic cannot demand a high price for the 26-year-old forward. Just because the ‘Canes weren’t willing to gamble doesn’t mean every other team will be so reluctant. And in the end, it only takes one team.

But it does add a wrinkle.

Contrast the Duchene situation with, say, the Buffalo Sabres’ situation with Evander Kane. Let’s say Tim Murray shops the 25-year-old winger this summer. May not happen, but let’s say it does. Kane can sign an extension on July 1, guaranteeing that the acquiring team would have him locked up for years to come.

Sort of like what happened when the Avs traded Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

For the record, Duchene believes a trade is likely to happen this offseason.

“There’s probably a good chance something will happen this summer,” he said, per the Denver Post.

But just keep in mind his contract — especially if a deal doesn’t go down.

Related: Fixing the Avs’ defense through trades will prove tough

Pre-game reading: A list of the top 10 traded prospects

— Up top, Brendan Smith will make his New York Rangers debut tonight in Boston (on NBCSN) after Tuesday’s trade with the Red Wings. The 28-year-old defenseman will likely be on the top pairing with his old Wisconsin Badgers teammate Ryan McDonagh.

— Smith is a left shot who doesn’t mind playing the right side, so skating with McDonagh is a natural place to start. “I enjoy the right side and I know he likes his dominant left side,” Smith said. “So I think we work well.” The Rangers really need Smith to come in and play well. Their defense — the biggest question mark heading into the season, and still the biggest question mark — is currently dealing with injuries to Dan Girardi (ankle) and Kevin Klein (back spasms). (Newsday)

— A list of the top 10 prospects who were traded ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. A pair of Canucks, Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen, occupy the top two spots. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars also featured twice on the list. (The Hockey News)

— Speaking of the Canucks, it’s been an encouraging week for their fans, but a tough week for the Sedins, who had to say good-bye to longtime friends and teammates Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen. “We’ve seen them grow up, go from call-ups to first- and second-liners on this team,” said Henrik. “That’s something for our young guys to learn, to understand you can’t be happy to be here. You’ve got to try to get better. That’s what those guys did.” (Vancouver Sun)

— On the return of P.K. Subban to Montreal, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels writes: “That he arrived here on trade deadline day—during the NHL’s busiest hours of the season—and kicked things off with a visit to the Montreal Children’s Hospital to receive an award from Canada’s Governor General in recognition of his $10 million pledge last season, was fitting.” (Sportsnet)

— Why did Kevin Shattenkirk make “Shattdeuces” his Twitter handle? Ummm … do you really want to know? Just kidding, it’s not as gross as it sounds. (Washington Post)

Enjoy the games!

Flames see ‘significant upside’ in Lazar


In trading for Curtis Lazar, the Calgary Flames made a commitment to a 22-year-old forward with just one assist in 33 NHL games this season.

But according to Flames GM Brad Treliving, it’s a commitment the team is excited to make.

“We’re not making this bet based on what he’s doing today. We think there is significant upside,” Treliving said, per the Calgary Herald. “He fits right in with our age group. He’s got a lot of work to do to get to the level we want him to and he’s committed to doing that.”

The Flames surrendered a second-round draft pick, as well as defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, to get Lazar out of Ottawa. The hope is that the former first-round pick can use the fresh start to get his career back on track.

“I’m looking forward to that chance where I can clear my conscience and play with some confidence again instead of just being in full-on survival mode,” said Lazar, who missed training camp due to mononucleosis and then saw his ice time under coach Guy Boucher fall to an average of 8:49.

Calgary already has a number of feisty forwards in Matthew Tkachuk, Troy Brouwer, Micheal Ferland, and Lance Bouma. And remember, when Treliving took the job in 2014, it was a goal of his to make the Flames bigger and tougher.

If Lazar pans out, they’ll become even harder to play against.

“He’s got some piss and vinegar to him,” said Treliving, “and I don’t think that’s bad to add to our group.”

Chiarelli puts faith in Brossoit down the stretch


Laurent Brossoit will play some games down the stretch.

He’ll have to after the Edmonton Oilers didn’t acquire a backup goalie for Cam Talbot at the trade deadline.

“We decided we’re going to go with the goalies that we have,” Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday, via Postmedia. “Part of our kind of overriding philosophy here, and I said this earlier in my press conference prior to this last road trip, was we wanted to give these guys a chance, the guys who got us here, and that includes (Brossoit).”

The 23-year-old Brossoit has only started two NHL games this season. He was recalled in January after Jonas Gustavsson, a bad signing by Chiarelli, cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL.

Brossoit, a rookie, is 1-1-0 with a .910 save percentage.

Talbot, meanwhile, has been the busiest goalie in the NHL. He’s been excellent — 32-18-7 with a .920 save percentage — but the Oilers, on the verge of booking their first playoff appearance in a decade, need him to stay fresh.

“We’ll have to [rest] Cam at certain points,” said Chiarelli. “And that’s been discussed between myself and the coaches. So we were not after a goalie today.”