A speedster with gifted hands: An in depth look into Flyers Valterri Filppula

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The Flyers have one goal this late in the season, just make the playoffs..and anything can happen. Flyers fans alike just want to hear the singing of “God Bless America” during the playoffs. General manager Ron Hextall and the Flyers left some fans scratching their heads when the trading deadline came to a halt on Wednesday at 3pm. The Flyers traded Mark Streit to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Valterri Filppula and some draft picks. Hextall wanted to infuse the struggling offense with speed and a gifted playmaker. So who really is Valterri Filppula? Let’s take an in depth look at him in this player profile segment.

Valtteri Filppula was born March 20, 1984, in Vantaa, Finland. He was drafted 95th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2002 NHL Draft.

Filppula made his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings on December 15, 2005. He became the first Finnish born player to ever play an NHL game for Detroit. His first NHL goal came on October 28, 2006, against the St. Louis Blues.

The former Jokerit product’s first full season in the NHL was a success. It showed the Red Wings they had selected a gifted goal scorer. For the 2006-07 season, he registered 10 goals, and 7 assists for a total of 17 points in 73 games played. He scored his first career playoff goal against the Calgary Flames in Game 1 of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.

During the 2007-08 training camp, Drake Marcus a, beat writer for the Red Wings offered these thoughts on Filppula:

Valtteri Filppula looks entirely capable of having his own line. This isn’t a surprise, as his skill level has been there from the start and his defensive instincts always were well-developed. But it’s a further sign that the Wings are in good shape that Filppula, already a good passer, spent the summer honing his shot.”

At age 23, Filppula tallied a career high with 19 goals and 36 points, for the 2007-08 season. He also won his first career Stanley Cup, as the Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

After a career year, Filppula agreed to a five-year, $15-million contract extension with Detroit, on July 30, 2008. His goal total slipped a bit after signing this contract the following season, garnering just 12 goals. However, he had a rebound season in 2011-12. He registered career highs with 23 goals, and 43 assists for a total of 66 points in 81 games played.

In the lockout shortened season of 2012-13, Filppula garnered 9 goals, and 8 assists for a total of 17 points in 41 games played. He became an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Filppula became a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, after agreeing to a five-year, $25 million contract with them on July 5, 2013. In his first season with the Lightning, he scored a career high in goals with 25.

For the 2014-15 season, Filppula recorded 12 goals, and 36 assists for a total of 48 points in 82 games played. That was the last season Filppula would record over 40 points for the Lightning. He recorded 31 points in 2015-16, and 34 points in 2016-17.

At age 32, the rugged center waived his no trade clause, and was dealt by the Lightning with picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Mark Streit. The deal seemed to pay off immediately for the Flyers. Filppula scored a game tying goal in his first game with the orange and black. The Flyers eventually won the game against the Florida Panthers 2-1 in a shootout.

Jakub Voracek was an avid supporter of Filppula after the game stating:

He’s a very good player on the puck and he has a heavy stick. For me and Schenner, it’s important to have the puck on our stick most part of the game.”

Filppula has had his ups and downs in the NHL. For his career, he has registered 152 goals, and 270 assists for a total of 422 points in 775 games played. George FitzGerald from the SB Nation site for the Lightning provided this scouting report of Filppula:

“Filppula is a defensively capable, second line center. If he’s your third line center, all the better. He is a playmaker that will likely make you scream shoot as he doesn’t use his wrist shot enough to keep teams honest. Also, don’t let him take one-timers. He seriously sucks at them. He’s still more than capable as a defensive center that can go up against the likes of Crosby, Toews and Ovechkin in the playoffs and hold them in check. He’ll kill penalties effectively and win faceoffs at a decent enough clip. He’s still got something left in the tank and has had a better offensive season than he did last season.”

The Flyers are happy to have Filppula fill the role as a second line center. He is a speedster, and one that has good hands. His vision of the ice, and hockey IQ can not be taken for granted. Filppula gives the Flyers options for this once struggling offense. Hopefully the new change in scenery will benefit Filppula and the Flyers.

 

In other Flyers news:

German Rubtsov signed a three-year-entry-level contract with the Flyers. The deal is worth $2.9 million, with an average cap hit of $925,000.

Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

 

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