The New York Islanders added Valtteri Filppula as depth to their forward position. How will he fare in 2018-2019 and what will his role be?
After Mathew Barzal on the top line, and Casey Cizikas on the fourth line, there’s some question marks down the middle for the New York Islanders. You have Brock Nelson, Jan Kovar and Valtteri Filppula fighting for two sports.
As we’ve been over on this site before, Brock Nelson is better suited as a winger than a center. Ideally, Jan Kovar is the player he was in the KHL and he plays the second line while Valtteri Filppula takes over on the third line.
The third line was a major issue for the Islanders in 2017-2018. Centered by Brock Nelson and a rotation of Andrew Ladd, Tanner Fritz, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang on the wing the line underachieved.
The idea here is to add a veteran who is a solid, no longer great, but solid center who has played a middle six role in Valtteri Filppula. On paper, his numbers justify this move, especially for only $2.75 million for one year.
Last year in Filppula had 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists). Now, at 34 years old, he won’t be that 50-60 point player he was in Detroit and Tampa Bay. Instead, he’s someone who you should be able to pencil in for somewhere in the 30’s in points.
Look for Filppula to finally add stability to a line that was weak last year. In addition to average point production, he’s a good faceoff guy, another area the Islanders struggle in. He won 51.3 percent of his faceoffs last year.
It’s safe to assume that he’ll be playing with veterans like Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov on the third line. He’s probably the best all-around player on that line, with Ladd over the hill it seems and Komarov more of a checking forward.
That unit will likely be a more defensive line than we saw last year under Doug Weight’s system. That is unless Josh Ho-Sang wows them in camp and forces himself onto a roster spot. Ho-Sang can add an offensive spark to the line, meaning Filppula could climb closer to the 40’s in points.
Filppula for some reason has a No Move Clause on his contract so he’s going to play this year. The third line seems like the most likely role for Valtteri Filppula, and I’ll assume he plays with Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov.
10 goals, 24 assists (34 points) 51.0 faceoff percentage
These stats don’t jump off the page but I think you’ll sign up for 34 points from a third line player making less than $3 million for this year. He’ll likely be one and done with the Islanders too but if he gives you these kinds of numbers you can consider the signing a success.
The Isles have what feels like a million depth forwards and Flipper is the perfect example of one of those guys. He likely has one of the higher ceilings of these “veteran depth forwards”.