31-Year-Old Center – Tampa Bay Lightning
Valtteri Filppula Contract Information:
Signed a five-year contract with Tampa Bay in July 2013 worth $5 million per season.
Filppula factored into both Lightning goals in Tuesday's loss to Montreal, scoring the first and assisting on the second.
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Valtteri Filppula: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Filppula is now the Bolts' resident veteran-in-chief, and the team's only forward 30 years or older -- OK, thatís not entirely true, what with Brendan Morrow around. But he will be the only greybeard around when Morrow gets scratched (and he will). Filppula's first season in Tampa delivered 58 points, including a career-best 25 goals, and he should deliver mid-60s point production as the team's second-line center in 2014-15. Just be wary of him in leagues that also count SOG, PIM, hits and blocks Ė he doesn't deliver much of anything in those categories. Still, most of those categories are fantasy afterthoughts, so snap him up Ė this Bolts squad is going places in the East.
Filppula has some huge skates to fill. He's now the Bolts' second-line center, a job previously held down by fan favorite, Vinny Lecavalier. Filppula has great upside -- he had 66 points in 2011-12 -- but he's coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued 2012-13 where he tallied just 17 points in 41 games. He needs the right line mates to excel and the Bolts are hoping that Teddy Purcell and one of Ryan Malone, Alex Killorn or Tyler Johnson will fit the bill. If he clicks with good mates, Filppula could easily set a new career mark, especially in an expanded role in Tampa.
The breakout many were expecting in previous campaigns finally came from Filppula last season, as he really clicked after joining Henrik Zetterberg's line while posting career-high totals (23 G, 43 A, plus-18) across the board. One knock continues to be that Filppula does not shoot the puck as much as he should, and last season was no exception as he fired just 144 shots despite an impressive 16.0% success rate. Although he struggled in the opening-round playoff loss to Nashville, Filppula finished the season on a high note in March with 14 points (4 G, 10 A) in 14 games while putting more than two shots on goal per game. He'll open the season skating on the Zetterberg line again, making another 65-70 point season a good bet.
A sprained left knee cost Filppula most of February, while his role centering the team's third line did not translate to the breakout campaign many were expecting. He's still just 26 years old, and an regular opportunity to work on a scoring line isn't completely out of reach, especially if Pavel Datsyuk's wrist injury forces a move to the wing. There's reason to believe that Filppula could benefit from shooting the puck more, as he fired just 115 shots last season in 71 games after putting 114 shots on goal in 55 games during the 2009-10 campaign. As late-round darts go, Filppula offers plenty of upside if head coach Mike Babcock squeezes him into the mix as a top-six forward at any point this season.
Filppula was projected as a growth stock with an opportunity to move up to the Wings' second line last season, but a broken wrist suffered in late October limited him to 55 games and ultimately left fantasy owners disappointed. The good news here is that Filppula was scoring at a 50-point pace a year ago and he'll get a chance center a line with even more talent around him thanks to the return of Jiri Hudler from the KHL. Filppula had nine points in the team's 12 playoff contests after racking up 13 points during 15 games in March, so signs of growth were apparent later in the season. At 26, a breakout seems likely, and the 60-point mark is within reach. Keep an eye on who his linemates will be to start the year and be ready to invest now that he's seeing more time both at even strength and on the power play.
Filppula has emerged as a consistent third-line center for the Red Wings, potting 12 goals and picking up 28 assists for his first 40-point NHL season. At 25, his offensive game may still improve, and the opportunity to earn a role on the second power-play unit could be a very nice boost to his production. If Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are paired together on the same line this season, Filppula may see extra time centering the second line, where the opportunity to contribute more offense would improve even further. To open the season, he'll likely have countryman Ville Leino as one of his wingers, while Jason Williams looks to be a good bet for the second spot.
Filppula doubled his production during his second full season with the Red Wings (19 G, 17 A). He's set to center the team's third line this season, with Dan Clearly and Mikael Samuelsson skating as his two wingers. Detroit has been pleased with his development thus far and promptly locked him up with a five-year, $15 million contract in July. If the Wings are unable to ink Henrik Zetterberg to a long-term contract, Filppula may get a shot to center the second line down the road, so he's got more upside in keeper leagues than in one-year formats, as he'll likely fall in the 40-50 point range this season.
He's starting the year off the top two lines, and his upside even on a better spot looks like 40 or so points. An ordinary forward, no one to get excited about just yet.
Filppula spent four games with the Red Wings in 2005-06, notching one assist. Odds are he would have spent the beginning of the season in the AHL anyway, but a broken finger in the preseason solidified his fate.
Third-round pick from 2002 has looked good in training camp.