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Valterri Filppula a Blue Jacket?

In recent days, according to Spector Hockey and The Hockey Writers, rumors have begun that the Jackets are interested in Valterri Filppula and are actively trying to obtain his negotiation rights. Now, obviously, I am neither Jarmo nor JD and am not telepathic, so I cannot know their thinking. What I can do is, as logically as possible, examine three questions concerning this rumor.

1) Is Filppula worth $5 million (or more) per year (The amount he is supposedly demanding of the Red Wings.) to the CBJ?

2) If not, is he worth pursuing with the idea of getting him to accept less money for more security?

3) If either of the above is true, what do the CBJ give in return, which Detroit will accept, for Filppula?

In helping me to examine these questions, I have made use of Filppula's Wikipedia page, capgeek.com and the Red Wings' roster, according to their official website, as well as the Blue Jackets' website.

So, is Filppula worth $5 million per season to the Blue Jackets? My gut reaction is that, if Detroit isn't going to pay him that much, he can't be worth the money. But is this true? According to capgeek.com, Detroit has slightly over $10.5 million in cap space for next season with 20 players signed. Should Detroit give him the $5 mill he's demanding, that leaves only $5.5 million to complete their roster. So, cap pressure is, to some degree, a consideration for Detroit. However, also according to capgeek.com, the Jackets have barely over $15 million in cap space with two fewer players signed, one of whom is Sergei Bobrovsky. Should the Jackets sign Bob at $5 million and give Filppula another $5 million, that leaves just $5 million to fill out the roster. Looked at in this manner, obtaining Filppula could actually harm the Jackets, next season.

Yet, there are other aspects to consider. Filppula is a center/left wing. While the CBJ are overstocked with centers - and with AA and Johansen developing nicely and potentially grabbing the #1 and #2 center slots in the next couple of seasons, at best, Filppula would be a fill-in for either AA or RyJo until they are ready to claim those spots. Meaning Filpulla would, eventually (If not fairly soon.), be primarily a left winger. With Marion Gaborik definitely being the first line right wing, having Filpulla on the left wing could provide a strong first line. Note Filppula's career numbers:

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM
2003–04 Jokerit SM-l 49 5 13 18 6
2004–05 Jokerit SM-l 55 10 20 30 20
2005–06 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 74 20 50 70 30
2005–06 Detroit Red Wings NHL 4 0 1 1 2
2006–07 Detroit Red Wings NHL 73 10 7 17 20
2006–07 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 3 2 2 4 2
2007–08 Detroit Red Wings NHL 78 19 17 36 28
2008–09 Detroit Red Wings NHL 80 12 28 40 42
2009–10 Detroit Red Wings NHL 55 11 24 35 24
2010–11 Detroit Red Wings NHL 71 16 23 39 22
2011–12 Detroit Red Wings NHL 81 23 43 66 14
2012–13 Jokerit SM-l 16 6 9 15 6
2012–13 Detroit Red Wings NHL 41 9 8 17 6
NHL totals 483 100 151 251 158

While these are the numbers for a strong second line forward, there is the possibility that adding more responsibility would drive him to produce more. The counter-argument, however, is that Detroit, a perrenial play-off contender and one of the best teams in the league, year in and year out, was never able to inspire him to greater production. I tend to take the later view and, frankly, I cannot condone paying $5 million a year for a second line forward. Especially when the CBJ roster is stuffed full of 2nd/3rd forwards. So, I would not pay him the salary he is demanding.

But is Filppula worth obtaining and offering a lower paying, but longer term contract? Remember that we are talking about , at best, a 2nd line center/left wing. And the new CBA caps long term contracts at seven years (unless resigning with a team, in which case, it's eight years). Filppula is 29 years old and, thus, probably towards the end of his most productive years. You can bet that the only way he'll accept a lower salary is by getting a contract extending for the full length allowed by the CBA, meaning seven years. And you can bet that he'll want a raise every year. So, let's be hypothetical for a minute. Let's say that the Jackets do obtain his rights and do get him to agree to a lower paying, longer term contract. Furthermore, let's say that the contract is for the full seven years with an initial salary of $4 million with a raise of $1 million per year. That would mean that, in the final year of his contract, when Filppula is 36 years old and, probably, a third liner, he'd be making $10 million. I'm not dumb enough to make that deal, so I can safely assume that neither Jarmo or JD are. Especially as we can safely assume that each year will show declining productivity.

All of which means that, were I the Jackets' GM and Filppula's agent contacted me to guage my interest, my response would be, "Thanks, but no thanks." Which means that I don't have to speculate about the final question above.

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