Finding the right value for Filppula has been difficult. It has been reported that he is looking for a deal between $5 and 5.5 million per year and he is looking for a very long-term contract.
During the 2011-12 season, he had career-best numbers in goals and assist with 23 and 43 respectively; a rate of .81 points per game. Those numbers would put him in line for that contract he is looking for. This season, however, he fell back to earth with only 17 points in the shortened season. His per-game number fell to .41.
To determine his value, his stats were calculated and compared to other players in the $3-5 million range. At $5 million per year, players were averaging .68 points per game over the past two seasons. At the $3 million per year mark, players were averaging .51 points per game.
Filppula’s career average is .51, and during the past two seasons, that numbers has risen to .61. So what does all of this mean? Well, his current salary of $3.5 million ($3 million cap hit) is right on pace with his actual value based on his stats. Now of course there are areas that are a bit more difficult to quantify just by stats. Filppula has improved his two-way game; he skates well with the puck and usually does well on face offs. This may raise his value up to $4 million per season.
He will turn 30 this season, so hopes of another breakout season are unlikely. That is not to say that he cannot improve any more, but at this point of his career, he is the player that he is. The idea of potential is gone as the reality of the player that he is has been known. He is not going to be a 25-30 goal scorer, but he should be a solid 15-20 goal player.
When looking at the value of a player, it is more than just the money that they make. The team also has to look at how that signing affects the rest of the roster as no move happens in a vacuum. According to Capgeek.com, the Red Wings have $10.7 million left in cap space. They have three restricted free agents that will fill part of that space. Is Filppula worth taking up nearly half of that?
Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist proved that they are more than ready to take on full-time roles this season. Tomas Tatar had another great season in Grand Rapids, but he cannot spend another season there; he will need to be given a chance on the roster.
Damien Brunner is also a free agent. In his first season in the NHL he played very well. He led the team in goals during the playoffs and was third during the season. Darren Helm missed all but one game this season, but he should play a big role once he returns.
Is signing Filppula worth blocking one of these players? Will signing him prevent the team from adding another piece to the team?
In the end, the money saved by not signing him will be better spent in making the team better. He is a good player and likely worth $4 million for the next two or three seasons—but not for longer than that. The younger players that will take his place and the possibility of the team adding another valuable piece will offset any loss that his departure may bring.
With the lower salary cap this season, Filppula will likely find it difficult to sign a contract for more than $5 million, but he should find teams willing to pay him $4.5-5 per season. At this point, the Red Wings should not be that team.