Leading up to July 5th, the first day of NHL free agency, we will be profiling various free agents that we believe the Predators could or should pursue. Today we continue with Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula…
Position: Center / Wing
2012-13 Stats: 41 GP, 9 G, 8 A, 17 PTS, -4
2011-12 Stats: 81 GP, 23 G, 43 A, 66 PTS, +18
Previous Contract: 5 years, $15 million
Projected Cap Number: From $3.5-5 million
Why the Preds should pursue: Valtteri Filppula is one of the more versatile forwards on the free agent market this summer. He primarily plays left wing but can play down the middle; he has won over 50 percent of his faceoffs in each of the last seven seasons. Filppula can fill a second-line offensive role or a third-line defensive role and play in all situations. Another benefit of signing Filppula is his experience, as he played in 105 playoff games and won a Stanley Cup with Detroit.
Why the Preds shouldn’t pursue: While Filppula has been a valuable piece of Detroit’s puzzle over the years, he’s only had one big year. In 2011-12 he tallied a career-high 66 points, but other than that he has not eclipsed the 40-point plateau. Filppula is also coming off a down season, which could decrease his asking price despite a thin free agent class. If the Preds are going to shell out around more than $4 million a year to Filppula, can he fulfill that investment? Was his potential maximized by playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg in Detroit? Those are some concerns that Red Wings observers have with Filppula. So is his inconsistency.
Where he would fit: The aforementioned versatility would be valuable to a Predators team that could be looking for a second-line winger or a third-line center come July 5th. If no centers are added to the roster (draft included), Filppula may be able to slide in as the No. 2 center behind Mike Fisher. If the Preds view Filppula as more of a wing, he may be a replacement for Sergei Kostitsyn if the two sides part ways.