The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/09/13 at 03:34 PM ET
I'm still feeling quite dreadful today, and ahead of tonight's game between the Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning (7 PM, FSD/SUN/97.1 FM), I cannot deny that addressing Johan Franzen's status from an, "I am open about having an anxiety disorder" perspective was less than pleasant.
I don't think this will make things any better: Valtteri Filppula's return to Detroit as a high-scoring member of the Tampa Bay Lightning is the topic of the day, and MLive's Brendan Savage wonders whether the Red wings made a "mistake" in not re-signing Filppula:
Valtteri Filppula is returning to Joe Louis Arena tonight for his first game in Detroit since leaving the Red Wings as a free agent last summer to sign with the Tampa Bay Lighting.
After spending the first seven years of his career in Detroit, Filppula went south when he couldn't come to a contract agreement with the Red Wings. He wanted a deal that would pay him $5 million per season and when the Red Wings weren't willing to pay that much, he found a team that would.
The Lightning gave Filppula $25 million over five years to become their second-line center.
Filppula had nine goals and eight assists in 41 games last season after enjoying a career year in 2011-12, when he had 23 goals and 43 assists in 81 games.
To replace Filppula, the Red Wings went to Florida and signed free-agent center Stephen Weiss to a five-year deal worth $4.9 million per season. While Filppula has played well with the Lightning, Weiss has struggled offensively.
Weiss has two goals and one assist in 17 games while Filppula ranks third in both goals (6) and points (12) for the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning after 15 games.
"For us," coach Jon Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times, "he's been a home run."
Looking back, did the Red Wings make a mistake in not re-signing Filppula?
To me, this is a question that makes as much sense as, "Did the Red Wings make a mistake in not re-signing Damien Brunner?" because it is very, very evident to me that Filppula did not plan on returning to Detroit.
In Brunner's case, the 2-year, $5 million contract he ended up signing with New Jersey was the Wings' initial offer, but upon receiving said offer, we've been told that Ken Holland and the Wings were simply informed that Brunner was "going in a different direction" by his agent, Neil Sheehy, and there were no negotiations after that.
In terms of the Red Wings' discussions with Filppula, every indication suggested that the Wings were hesitant to offer him more than $4.5 million per season, but given that he ended up signing in Tampa Bay for all of $500,000 more than the Wings inked Weiss, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Wings were not willing to retain Filppula's services over a couple hundred thousnad dollars a season.
As far as I'm concerned, Filppula wanted a chance to play top-line minutes, and he's receiving them in Tampa Bay. I don't think he would've come back if the Wings had offered him $5.5 million a season, and I mean that very sincerely.
I honestly didn't expect Weiss to struggle for as long as he did, but I didn't believe that the first 20 games would be very pretty given that he'd missed the vast majority of the 2013 season recovering from wrist surgery, and given that he was learning how to play for a team whose systems of play, both offensively and defensively, were and are the antithesis of the Panthers' dump-and-not-chase style of play. I do believe that he will find his form, but given that he's played for one team since he was 18, and that his new employer for the first time in 12 years does everything differently, I didn't think he'd look like himself until December or January anyway.
Did the Wings "make a mistake" in not signing Filppula? The man's beenfantastically inconsistent over the course of 82-game seasons, and we're not quite 20 games in. I can't think of a more inconsistent player in terms of someone who can play for five games like a 90-point-scorer and another 20 like someone who's afraid to possess the puck beyond the opposition's blueline. I don't think he really wanted to come back to Detroit, either.
And Weiss has been battling injuries (that big single piece of plastic adorning the pinky finger of his left glove isn't there for decoration) and difficulties adjusting to a puck possession/pursuit system up front and what Chris Chelios described as the most demanding defensive system for centers in terms of skating back and ensuring that there's man-on-man coverage in the defensive zone that Weiss's struggles weren't exactly unexpected.
Who made the "mistake?" Ask me again in March, when the Wings may or may not be looking for a top-four defenseman and a scoring forward or simply a top-four defenseman.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.