It’s common knowledge that the post-lockout Red Wings prefer to draft and develop from within since the introduction of the salary cap. Let’s take a few minutes and go over the development of Valtteri Filppula. I did this a few months back with Jiri Hudler’s development. I think it’s a good, numbers based look at how a player has developed over time with the Wings.
In addition to being really pretty, Filppula is also really good at playing a two-way game. He has been used on both the power play and penalty kill throughout his tenure with the Wings. Sadly, it’s difficult to quantify defensive numbers, so let’s just all agree that he plays solid on both ends of the ice and let’s focus on his offensive numbers. Here are his career stats, according to hockeydb.com and nhl.com:
|Year||Games||Goals||Assists||Points||82 Game Pace||PP Time||SH Time||ES Time|
I did not include the 2005-2006 season, where Fil played four games and had one assist. Fil played really well in the AHL, scoring 70 points in 74 games his first season there. It was time to move him to the big club, which was done beginning in 2006-2007.
In Fil’s rookie season, he had a total of 17 points in 73 games. Not bad for a rookie who did not get significant power play time – he basically got one shift a game with the extra man. I do not remember a lot of the details of this season, but I’d take an estimated guess that Fil played most of his time on the third/fourth line, so scoring a ton of goals was not an easy task.
In his next season, Fil’s numbers just about doubled in his points per game with the help of additional power play and even strength ice time. Finding his role on the third line with stupid Samuelsson and Hudler helped Filppula find his game and continue to grow as a player. He also made Malkin his bi*^h in the Stanley Cup Final and scored this goal:
After the 2008 season, Fil declared arbitration and eventually came to terms with the Wings for $3 million a season for 5 years. I feel that was a very reasonable contract for both sides. Going into the 2008-2009 season, there was hope that Fil could develop into an upper echelon player, giving the Wings fantastic depth. While he continued to play solid defensively, his scoring did not increase in the 08-09 season, only scoring four more points. I mostly attribute this to the Wings signing Hossa, keeping Fil on the third line and limiting his power play time (back down to 47 seconds a game). I still would have liked to see his scoring increase.
The 2009-2010 season was more difficult to analyze. Filppula started the year playing on a line with Jason Williams and Ville Leino (apparently, this seemed like a good idea) while getting significant power play time. I remember Fil playing really well, but Leino doing nothing and Williams living up to his full potential as a good AHL player at best. Fil then suffered the first major injury (Major Injury -salute-) of his NHL career when he broke his wrist. This caused him to only play 55 games. Based on an 82 game schedule, he would have had 52 points, compared to 41 the year before and about 38 in his second year. Even though it seemed his numbers were down, I’d say Fil upped his game to the next offensive level to a certain extent.
Going into the 2010-2011 season, a lot was expected of Fil. The Wings signed Mike Modano and moved Fil to the second line center between Franzen and Bertuzzi. I wouldn’t call this a make or break year, but big things were expected of Filppula in this season. How did he do? Kinda…meh. His points pace dropped from 52 to about 45 in an 82 game season. Not good, especially since he was playing over two minutes a game on the power play. I know his ice time decreased about 30 seconds in all situations, but playing with other top 6 players the entire season and still getting significant minutes should have moved his scoring numbers higher. At least his defensive game stayed solid, as he was never one to hurt the Wings inside their own blue line.
This last season, Mr. Filppula was moved to the left wing for the majority of the season. For the most part, Fil was with Hank in the middle and Hudler on the right. Fil finally had his breakout year, increasing his scoring to an 82 game pace of almost 67 points. That’s about what to expect from a second line winger. Depending on what happens in free agency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rookie (Tatar/Nyquist) on the Hank/Fil line next season. That’d be awesome.
I would say that overall, Filppula has developed positively during his time with the Wings, albeit slower than we all would have liked. I think Fil should have been in the 60 points range last season and pushing the 70 point pace this season (which he just about did) and continue going forward. If he can keep up last year’s numbers, his contract turns into a very friendly one. He is a UFA after next season, and I would prefer keeping him as long as the cost isn’t more than about $4.5 million a season. That number is subject to change since we have no clue what the new CBA is going to bring in the coming months. Sadly, with Ville Leino now making $4.5 million a season (hahahahahaha stupid Buffalo), Fil could easily break the bank somewhere if he has another stellar season. Let’s hope the phrase “Hometown Discount” is being taught to Fil right now!
What are your thoughts on Fil’s career so far? You know the drill – get at me on the twitters (@KevinN37) and I might reply to you and make you feel awesome!