Boucher: What To Expect From Valtteri Filppula
Barring an early season offensive break out, Valtteri Filppula is going to face an uphill climb for the Tampa Bay Lightning this year. Unfortunately it has very little to do with him and everything to do with the player whose spot he will be filling. Vincent Lecavalier’s buyout has been devastating to some fans even though it was a financial move that had to be made. Some may be quick to compare Filppula to the former captain but the two players actually have completely different styles. Fans’ expecting him to step into Vinny’s spot on the second line and on the score sheet might be a bit disappointed. The question becomes: What can the Bolts expect from their new forward?
One of the biggest positives that Filppula brings is versatility. GM Steve Yzerman has verbalized that Filppula’s excellent two way play was a big draw. He also brings versatility with his ability to play any forward position. A better than average face off man, he is a well rounded player that the Bolts hope to increase their defensive abilities. He can see time on the power play and the penalty kill. Scoring goals is definitely not something the Bolts are worried about, but doing everything they can to keep the puck out of their own net is.
Filppula made waves when he recorded 66 points in the 2011-12 season. A rash of injuries followed, most recently a high ankle sprain in Game 7 of last spring’s Western Conference Semifinals. More than likely he doesn’t have the high point potential that many seem to think Lecavalier still does. A more realistic production estimate is most likely no less than 40 points over a full 82 game season. With his abilities he can and should regularly chip in with assists.
The new Finn may be less of an offensive threat than Lecavalier… but just barely. It’s easy to look back at the Vinny of the past, but he’s slowing down and his numbers reflect that. Filppula may be smaller in stature but can compete in all areas of the ice. He seems eager to up his production in Tampa and shoulder a larger workload than he had with the Red wings. This could be just the place to do it.
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