DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings made a subtle move Wednesday that could prove to be a spectacular one if Valtteri Filppula lives up to his potential.
Filppula signed a US$15-million, five-year contract with the Red Wings that keeps a talented forward on the roster for a while.
“We love everything about him because he’s a complete player with great character, and we think he can get even better,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press. “He plays hard, he plays hurt. He’s got great speed and talent along with versatility because he can play left wing or centre.
“The only thing no one knows is how good he can be. But even if he doesn’t become a 70-point scorer we think he might be, we’ll still love everything about him as a player and person.”
The 24-year-old restricted free agent, who avoided salary arbitration with the deal, now is under contract through the 2012-13 season with a team set up for short-and long-term success.
“We’re really excited about locking in a player this young and this good that keeps him off the market as an unrestricted free agent for a couple of years,” Holland said. “He’s the kind of player we can build around in the years to come.”
Filppula had career highs with 19 goals and 36 points last season. Then despite a groin injury, he played in all 22 playoff games and scored in the Stanley Cup-clinching win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last month for his fifth goal and 11th point of the championship run.
Early in the second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the line of Filppula, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson line was the best one he had.
Detroit took Filppula, a Finland native, in the third round of the 2002 draft. He has 29 goals and 54 points in 155 games over two-plus seasons in the NHL.