Dear Red Wings: Filppula goes to Switzerland, Veleno works out

Filppula’s 591 games with Red Wings is 31st overall in franchise history

COLUMBUS, OH - MAY 07:  Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Detroit Red Wings controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on May 7, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. Detroit defeated Columbus 5-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - MAY 07: Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Detroit Red Wings controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on May 7, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. Detroit defeated Columbus 5-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

Valtteri Filppula has signed with Geneve-Servette HC of the Swiss National League. 🇨🇭


591 games, 287 points with Red Wings

Filppula, 37, was selected by the Red Wings at 95th overall in the 3rd round of the 2002 draft. He scored 70 points in 74 games played in his first North American pro hockey season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He had spent the pervious two seasons -- after being drafted -- playing for Jokerit when they were still part of SM-liiga in his home country of Finland 🇫🇮. He joined the Red Wings well prepared and he ended up one of the Ken Holland regime’s strongest draft picks.

Through 591 games with Detroit, Filppula scored 112 goals and 175 assists for 287 points. In terms of number of games with the Red Wings, Filppula slots in at No. 31 all time right behind Johan Franzen’s 602 games and Vyacheslav Kozlov’s 607.

Overall, he appeared in an impressive 1,056 NHL games between Detroit, Tampa, Philadelphia and the New York Islanders. He scored 197 goals and 333 assists for 530 points.

Filppula also earned 86 points in 166 NHL playoff games. He went to three Stanley Cup finals -- 2008 (Detroit), 2009 (Detroit) and 2015 (Tampa). He had 11 points in 22 playoff games when the Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 and followed that up with 16 points in 23 games in 2009 when they fell short to Pittsburgh.

Moreover (yeah, I am not done yet), Filppula boasted a Corsi For % in all situations of 53.7 or better during his first eight seasons in the league, the first six of which were with Detroit. He topped out at a CF% of 58.6 in 2012-13 with Detroit. In other words, he was a dominant puck-possession center at the start and in the middle of his career. The Red Wings were a puck-possession nightmare for other teams when they could trot out Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Filppula among their top two lines. I miss those days.

Yzerman takes him to Tampa

Of course, Steve Yzerman was well aware of this when he signed him to play in Tampa in 2013. Filppula was a strong addition to that Lightning squad and was a big part of the 2014-15 team that went to the final -- 14 points in 26 playoff games that year. The Lightning lost to the dynastic Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

Yzerman brought him back to Detroit in 2019 to help foster the young forwards. There were times over the past couple of seasons when he stood out as Detroit’s most reliable forward at both ends of the ice, and I am not sure that’s a good thing. Actually I can very confidently say that it wasn’t a good thing to have a 35-year-old play the role of most effective two-way forward. But Filppula stayed relatively healthy these past two seasons and earned his place as the reliable “old guy.” He suffered through some really awful games, too, and remained professional about it.

His two-year contract with the Red Wings was done at the of 2020-21. I would have been surprised to see Yzerman bring him back again this season as he works to slot in more younger players. There’s no room for 37 or 38-year-olds right now, as noted in the Frans Nielsen buyout.

DETROIT - MAY 26: Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during game two of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on May 26, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. The Red Wings defeated the Penguins 3-0 to set the series at 2-0 Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images) (2008 Getty Images)

Clearly, I have a ton of respect for Filppula. When you think of those 2008-09 teams, you have to think of Filppula carrying the puck through the neutral zone, backchecking hard through every shift and just plain being a relentless hound on the puck -- and it was usually on his stick when he was on the ice. We know Mike Babcock loved that. He was a Babcock favorite, as he should have been.

His “superman” goal during Game 2 of the 2008 finals against Pittsburgh is one of my personal favorite Filppula moments. It put the Red Wings up 3-0 in that game at Joe Louis Arena.

I’m happy he is going to Switzerland. That seems like a very nice way to ride out the final year or two of his career. It worked out for Justin Abdelkader who ended up winning a championship with EV Zug this past season. They beat Filppula’s new team, Geneve Servette, in the final.


Joe Veleno is working hard

Joe Veleno is preparing for the season -- and there are pictures to prove it. He is quite “yoked” as the kids say.

I fully expect the 21-year-old to be leading the Griffins offense come October. Sure, I’d love to see Veleno make this Red Wings team, but when you listen to Yzerman and how he is very concerned about throwing a player like Veleno into a grinding, 4th-line role with limited minutes on the NHL squad (on what probably will be another losing team, if we’re being honest), I think it becomes clear the GM would rather see him centering the Griffins’ 1st or 2nd line and owning the power play. At least at the start of the season.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t wow us and prove us wrong during training camp and the preseason. I’m excited to see what he looks like on the ice come the end of September.



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Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.