Filppula 2

Filppula lands in Tampa Bay: five years, $25 million


Valtteri Filppula got what he wanted.

The former Detroit center — who was gunning for a five-year deal worth at least $5 million annually — has signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

The move, combined with the Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss signings, marks a changing of the guard in Detroit.

Filppula had spent his entire professional career with the Red Wings, debuting in 2005-06 — as a teammate of franchise legend and current Bolts GM Steve Yzerman.

The 29-year-old Finn had a breakout campaign in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 23 goals and 66 points. But this season, coming out of the lockout, was a struggle in terms of overall offensive production.

He had just nine goals and 17 points in 41 games played, and his playoff production — two goals and six points in 14 games — left a lot to be desired as well.

Of course, Filppula was in the final year of a five-year, $15 million deal with Detroit and seemed determined to test free agent waters.

With a weak free agent center class and his 2011-12 season highlighting his resume, it was expected someone would make a sizeable offer, even with a down 2013 campaign.

Tampa Bay turned out to be the team.

With the move, the Lightning solve their second-line center situation, which had a sizable hole after the club bought out longtime captain Vincent Lecavalier.

The Filppula deal now puts Tampa Bay roughly $3.5 million away from the salary cap ceiling.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?