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Numbers Game: Lightning lure Filppula to Tampa Bay

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Scott Cullen
7/8/2013 12:56:54 AM
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The Tampa Bay Lightning made an aggressive move to fill the void created when they bought out Vincent Lecavalier.

Numbers Game looks into Tampa Bay signing Valtteri Filppula.

The Lightning Get: C Valtteri Filppula.

Filppula, 29, is coming off a season in which he scored 17 points in 41 games, his lowest per-game (0.41 ppg) point production since his rookie season of 2006-2007, yet he put up his best possession numbers, so there was a certain amount of bad luck involved in that scoring dive.

One of the challenges that Filppula will face in Tampa Bay is that he spent most of the past couple seasons in Detroit playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, one of the game's premier puck possession players and, no matter how skilled his linemates in Tampa Bay, they probably won't be as complete as Zetterberg.

Signed for five years and $25-million, Filppula is going to be expected to replace Vincent Lecavalier's production in the Tampa Bay lineup.

Filppula could be a productive secondary scorer; he notched a career-high 66 points in 2011-2012, but that's the only time in his career that he's scored more than 40 points in a season. How many times, in seasons when he will be aged 29 through 33, should he be expected to surpass that threshold over the course of his five-year deal? Based on Filppula's track record, getting more than 40 points three times would qualify as a success.

Had the Lightning not signed Filppula, they could have had AHL MVP Tyler Johnson penciled in as the second line centre for next season. The 5-foot-9, 22-year-old had 65 points in 62 regular season games, adding 21 points in 18 playoff games, in addition to six points in 14 games with the Lightning, but now his path to playing time in Tampa Bay appears more complicated.

The Red Wings replaced Filppula with Stephen Weiss and, given the similarity in their contracts (five year, $24.5-million for Weiss), it sure looks like the Red Wings chose what they perceived as an upgrade for that second-line centre position.

Certainly, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is very familiar with Filppula from his time in Detroit and Tampa Bay has enough skilled forwards to give Filppula a chance to produce, but he wasn't consistently productive while playing for the Red Wings, so it's not easy to forecast better things for him with the Lightning.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Valtteri Filppula (Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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