The New York Islanders were expecting improved play from their third line when they signed Valtteri Filppula, but not to this extent.
When the New York Islanders signed Valtteri Filppula as a consolation prize for losing John Tavares it seemed like an okay depth signing. The Isles got him for one-year at $2.75 million which is good value for someone who put up 33 points in 2017-2018.
My only issue was Lou Lamoriello gave him a No Move Clause. Despite how ridiculous that idea is some were still optimistic that he could be an okay third line center. So far, he’s been more than okay.
Through 22 games, Filppula has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists). That puts him on pace for 56 points this year over a full 82 game schedule. The last time Filppula eclipsed the 50 point mark came in 2013-2014 as a 29-year-old with the Lightning.
His six goals is more than halfway to his goal total of last year (11) when he played in 81 games with the Flyers. Even though his shooting percentage came down a little bit since the start of the year, it’s still an impressive 31.6 percent.
His career high is 19.2 percent so eventually, his production will come back to earth, but for now, he’s serving a role they haven’t had in three years.
Ever since Frans Nielsen left, they’ve been missing the defensively responsible middle six forward who can still give you some production. In years past, Brock Nelson hasn’t produced in that role, and it’s nice to finally have that kind of center back.
It’s weird because they’ve both produced similar numbers this year, Nielsen has 12 points, they both wear number 51, and they’re both 34-years-old.
Nielsen and Filppula too are both past their primes, but the poor man’s Nielsen, Val Filppula is getting paid $2.5 million less and only has one year on his deal versus Nielsen’s four year’s remaining.
Now, the Islanders shouldn’t necessarily double down on Filppula just yet but monitoring his success and talking about it is a must. He’s been better than anyone’s expectations and for virtually nothing against the cap.