So Long and Thanks For All the Fish: The Case of UFA Valtteri Filppula
With Filppula hitting free agency this summer, and reportedly asking for a contract in the range of $5-million per year, there has been a lot of divide between Red Wings fans on whether the team should pay out the money to resign him.
The National Hockey League has come across some very rough and threatening Finnish players over the years such as Jarkko Ruutu, Saku Koivu, and Teemu Selanne. Valtteri Filppula is not on that list for a reason. In any case, the Red Wings are in for a very long winded off season with some very big names up for grabs such as our prized two-way “dynamic” center man. However, I am not the one to say bring him back at his asking price.
First off, let’s talk straight numbers. The former 95th overall pick from 2002 had a very impressive campaign as a 28 year old during the 2011-2012 season, putting up 66 points in the regular season and a decent 2 points over five games in the playoffs.
This year was a bit worse than that. Over 41 games played in the NHL shortened season, he put up a modest 17 points including 9 goals, and 6 points over 14 games played in the playoffs.
Simply put, Filppula’s overall point production is not worth five million per year for an extended amount of time, especially since he is a player who is considered to be fully developed and ripe at age 29.
To put in perspective, Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins is going to make $4.5 million on his brand new contract which will be kicking in this coming year. It will also go up in price to $5.5 million in 2014-2015 and then to $6 million for the following three and a small uptick at the end of the contract. This is a guy who put up 67 points (29 goals) in 2011-2012 and 32 points (16 goals) in the 2013 regular season (playoffs are still in progress for the Bruins). The cap hit will be $5.75 million per year. That is point production subsidized. Filppula does not even come close to the upside of Tyler Seguin, who is only 21 years of age.
Now, Filppula does have a very good defensive game and is a huge defensive presence back in his own zone, something that is very important to the Red Wings and essential to their newly found “identity” from this past year. The Red Wings were successful in large part to their policing of the boards and puck possession. Least we forget, Filppula produced in my mind one of the best goals of the playoffs against the Blackhawks in game 2, where he dragged the puck across the ice into the slot and backhanded one behind Corey Crawford as he fell down and glided to the corner in celebration. The man, simply put, has immense strength.
The strength, however, is not worth a long term contract, nor one that is grossly overpriced.
Another thing that Ken Holland has to consider is that there are a couple of names that the Red Wings are really going to have to take second looks at. Joakim Andersson settled into his role as the bona fide third line center later in the season, and that Darren Helm in all likelihood will be back either this year or the following year at the latest.
Anderssson moves the puck very well, and Darren Helm is, for a lack of a better term, “G-d.” (Thank you Red Wings Brazil)
In addition to the center depth, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk both proved that they are very good when split apart onto two separate lines, and it showed in the playoffs.
There are also some very young wingers like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist who will eventually pan out, along with Tomas Jurco in all likelihood.
Val has done well in Detroit but while they are going with the youth movement, he is a very replaceable player and should be moved or allowed to test the waters if he does not agree to a short term contract at a discount of his bidding price.
After all, there will be quite a few teams interested in him.
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