It was a tough decision for general manager Ken Holland.
When the Red Wings signed Stephen Weiss to a 5 year $24 million deal, they essentially decided that they were finished with the Finnish forward Valtteri Filppula.
The Red Wings had that money to sign Filppula but never offered it to him. Instead they decided to go another route, and offered that money to the former Florida Panther.
The Red Wings made the right choice. The Weiss signing will prove to be the best signing the Red Wings made this offseason.
First, Weiss is just a better player than Filppula. It is really that simple. Weiss has been more consistent and effective as a contributor on offense throughout his entire career. Filppula broke new heights in the 2011-2012 season when he tallied 67 points, but took another step backwards this past season after putting up a lackluster 17 points and a minus four.
Weiss, on the other hand, has tallied over 60 points in two different seasons. He has scored at least 42 points in the past five seasons where he has played at least 70 games. That’s a lot more than Filppula can say. Not only that, but Filppula has played alongside better and more talented players his entire career. How is it fair to compare the two when Filppula has played a the majority of his career with superstars next to him. Weiss is the better player, and we may not have even seen his ceiling yet. Weiss has never played with players the caliber of Daniel Alfreddsson, Johan Franzen, Zetterberg or Datsyuk. Weiss could hit point totals we have never seen from him hit before.
That’s not even the best part of the deal.
The Weiss singing also gives the Red Wings something they couldn’t really have with Filppula. Weiss is a true center, and a much better one than Filppula. Filppula’s ineffectiveness at the center position forced head coach Mike Babcock to separate superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, moving Zetterberg down to center the second line while moving Filppula to the wing. With Weiss now on the Red Wings, the job of second line center is filled, allowing Babcock to put his two best players alongside each other.
Both Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s best seasons of their careers have occurred when the two played side by side. The Euro Twins, as they are nicknamed, took the NHL by storm after the 2004-2005 lockout. They are both two of the best two-way forwards in the world, racking up high numbers while simultaneously being shutdown defensive forwards. The last time these two played a full season together, Datsyuk put up 97 points and won the Selke for best defensive forward. Zetterberg tallied over 92 points and was also nominated for a Selke.
That was several years ago, yes, but both have proved they haven’t lost a step. Datsyuk and Zetterberg both scored over a point-per-game average last season and Datsyuk was nominated again for the Selke award, his sixth consecutive nomination. Allowing these two to play alongside each other, without it being at the expense of the second line, is huge for this team.