The NHL Free Agency is officially in full swing. The Tampa Bay Lightning wasted no time in making their first move. Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced Friday that they have signed center Valtteri Filppula to a five year contract.
The 29 year old Vantaa, Finland native played 41 games with the Detroit Red Wings last season. In that time, he netted 9 goals and 8 assists for a total of 17 points.
While I concede that Filppula had a bit of an off year last season, I don’t really and truly consider a lockout stained half season as a fair assessment of one’s talent.
If you take a look back at the 2011-12 season, the numbers tell a very different story.
During the 2011-12 season, Filppula scored 23 goals and 43 assists for a total of 66 points to go along with his plus-18 rating. Taking these numbers into consideration, he fits right in with players like Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell.
While some players elected to sit back and watch the NHL Lockout unfold, the 6 foot, 193 pound center had other things in mind. He returned to his native Finland to play with Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League. There, he scored 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in just 16 games.
One can assume that Filppula will be filling the hole made when former-Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by the Lighting late last week.
We are pleased to sign Valtteri to a five-year contract today,” Yzerman said. “We feel he is an outstanding, all-around centerman who brings a winning pedigree to our organization. He fills a much-needed position for us at center and his skill, work ethic and character will make him a great addition to our team. On behalf of the Lightning we’d like to welcome him to the organization.” ~ via TampaBayLightning.com
Filppula has plenty of international experience as well.
At the 2010 Olympic Game in Vancouver, Filppula represented his native Finland, who took him the Bronze Medal that year. He also represented Finland at the 2012 IIHF World Championships.
Filppula was originally drafted by the Red Wings in the 3rd Round (95th Overall) in the 2002 NHL Draft.
What do you think of the acquisition of the Lightning’s newest center? Can you see Yzerman’s plan for the team starting to come together? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.