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Lightning aren't asking Filppula to replace Lecavalier

Saturday, 07.06.2013 / 8:59 PM / NHL Free Agency 2013

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Lightning aren't asking Filppula to replace Lecavalier
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman gave a five-year contract to Valtteri Filppula on Friday, but was quick to say he doesn't expect the centerman to replace recently bought out Vincent Lecavalier.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman used words to describe newly signed Valtteri Filppula that also could be used on former captain Vincent Lecavalier.

"High-character guy, he's a Stanley Cup winner."

But Yzerman on Saturday was quick to say Filppula was not given a five-year contract to leave the Detroit Red Wings and simply replace Lecavalier, who was let go via compliance buyout last week after 14 seasons with the Lightning that included the 2004 Stanley Cup.

"He's completely different than Vinny, [a] totally different type of player," Yzerman said. "Vinny was a No. 1 pick overall in the draft.

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"We've changed our team; we've acquired a good player who's going to be a real positive contributor to our team, who's a real good guy. We understand everybody's going to say, 'Oh, he's here to replace Vinny.' He's here to make us a better team and he will make us a better team."

Filppula's deal reportedly is worth $25 million, less than the Lightning owe Lecavalier after buying out the final seven years and $45 million that remained on his contract.

"I spoke with Yzerman, and I've known him from Detroit times, and I spoke to [Lightning defenseman] Sami Salo too, and they have a really interesting, young kind of team that is going to be a good place for me," Filppula told Tampa Bay Online from Finland on Friday. "Those were sort of the main things that made me want to come to Tampa."

Filppula, a 29-year-old forward, played seven full seasons for Detroit. He had 17 points in 41 games in 2012-13, then scored six points in 14 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He has 100 goals and 151 assists in 483 career games. Filppula won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008 and went to the Final in 2009, when he had 16 points in 23 games.

Filppula's best season was 2011-12, when he put up 23 goals and 43 assists and was plus-18 in 81 games.

"I think playing center I can find my wingers well and that way be able to create some chances," Filppula told the website. "And I’ll do my best on defense, for sure, and that's one aspect of my game that I take serious, to make sure I play well in both ends."

Yzerman said Filppula will help the Lightning in several ways.

"I think he's a complete player," Yzerman said. "I think he's extremely versatile, he can play all three forward positions. We've signed him to play center, that's the idea, but he's a good faceoff man, he's a good defensive forward, and he can contribute offensively.

"Mostly, I like his versatility. High-character guy, he's a Stanley Cup winner, he comes from a winning program; he'll be a good addition to our team."

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[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

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