After buying out Vincent Lecavalier last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves searching for a second line center to play behind elite sniper Steven Stamkos.
They seem to have found their target, signing former Detroit Red Wings‘ forward Valtteri Filppula to a five-year deal worth $25 million Friday. Mathematically, that comes out to be nearly $5 million per year.
Filppula’s coming off a disappointing 2013 campaign, with nine goals and 17 points in 41 games. However, 2011-12′ saw him put up 23 goals and 66 points. Both were NHL bests for him. The 29-year-old is also somewhat responsible defensively, evidenced by plus ratings in four of his past seven seasons.
While the money might be a bit much, it’s no secret Tampa Bay had to replace Lecavalier. Couple that pressing need with 2013’s thin free agent crop, especially up front, and GM Steve Yzerman probably didn’t have very many choices.
Looking ahead, this move is a win-win for both parties. Filppula likely wasn’t going to be re-signed by the Red Wings, more so given their recent acquisitions of Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson, and Yzerman sort of knew what to expect from him, a direct result of his previous experience in Detroit’s front office.
Personally, I love this addition. It fills a hole without downgrading, and pending next season’s production, might just be exactly what Tampa Bay needs.