The Detroit Red Wings could have some tough personnel decision to make before the trade deadline, especially if they intend to secure that top defenseman they so desperately need. And the odd man out come trade deadline time could be center Valtteri Filppula.
According to a recent report on Detroit’s MLive.com, the Red Wings and Filppula, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, are still far apart in contract negotiations. It is believed that Filppula is seeking more than $5 million per season, which would be a significant raise over the $3.5 million he is making this year.
Even if the Wings try to ink the 28-year-old forward to a long-term deal, the maximum of which would be eight years under provisions in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the new restrictions from the CBA also prevent cap circumvention with front-loaded contracts and could hinder the team’s ability to keep Filppula at a reasonable cap rate.
Filppula finally had the breakout season the Wings were looking for last year when he tallied 23 goals and 43 assists for 66 points in 81 games. Injuries have caused Filppula to miss several games this season, but he has accumulated four goals and six assists for 10 points in 19 games thus far–including two goals in two games for the Wings since returning from injury. But if the Wings and Filppula are still far apart when the April 3 trade deadline rolls around, the team might opt to trade him in favor of defensive help.
He is a solid second-line center who is defensively responsible, which the Wings like and could become his best selling points to potential buyers. The Wings have been linked to defenseman such as Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames, and Lubomir Visnosky of the New York Islanders in recent weeks as potential targets to help improve their blue line.
The Florida Panthers are expected to be sellers at the deadline, but it’s uncertain if they would take a package including Filppula in exchange for a package including Campbell, especially with Filppula scheduled to become a free agent. If he doesn’t sign with the Panthers, then they potentially lose Campbell for nothing (depending on what else is included in the deal).
The Islanders could definitely use some depth at the center position, and with the team usually struggling to meet the cap floor year after year, they might be willing to dangle the money in front of Filppula that he is looking for to stay in New York.
The Flames are always a wild card. The team should have started selling assets and rebuilding years ago, but they continue to try to turn things around on the fly. With that being said, it’s uncertain if the team will even be sellers come trade deadline time and, if so, to what extent they will look to part with talent.
With a little less than three weeks to go before the trade deadline, there is still time for the Wings and Filppula to possibly come to an agreement. But if the two sides remain far apart, Filppula could end up finding himself packing his bags at the trade deadline.