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Filppula signs two-year contract with Red Wings

Forward had 31 points for Islanders last season, was drafted by Detroit in 2002

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Valtteri Filppula signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Financial terms were not released.

The 35-year-old forward had 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in 72 games with the New York Islanders before an upper-body injury on March 19 caused him to miss the remainder of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

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Filppula said he will play center in his return to Detroit, where he began his NHL career and played from 2005-13.

"I've talked to [coach Jeff Blashill], and he's planning on using me at center, but we didn't discuss much more than that," Filppula said. "I can play wing, but the plan is center right now."

Signed as a free agent by the Islanders on July 1, 2018, after two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Filppula has 494 points (185 goals, 309 assists) in 948 games with the Islanders, Flyers, Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Selected by Detroit in the third round (No. 95) of the 2002 NHL Draft, he has 86 points (25 goals, 61 assists) in 166 NHL playoff games and won the Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.

"I'm really excited," Filppula said. "The team is a lot different than when I was there -- it is a much younger roster now -- but there's still a few guys that I played with, and I always loved the organization and the city."

General manager Steve Yzerman said Filppula addresses the Red Wings' need for more depth at center.

"We thought we had a hole in the middle, and we wanted someone who could fit in with Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen," Yzerman said. "This lets the coach move Andreas Athanasiou back to the wing. [Athanasiou] played some center at the end of the year and did a nice job, but this gives us some flexibility."

Detroit also signed defenseman Patrik Nemeth and goalie Calvin Pickard, each receiving a two-year contract. Financial terms were not released.

Nemeth had 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 74 games for the Colorado Avalanche last season. The 27-year-old has 39 points (four goals, 35 assists) in 250 games with the Avalanche and Dallas Stars, who selected him in the second round (No. 41) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

"He's a big, solid, defensive defenseman," Yzerman said. "He'll be a great partner for either Mike Green or Filip Hronek. He can kill penalties and he helps us right now when we have some questions on defense because of injuries and players at the end of their contracts."

Yzerman said Pickard will play for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, barring an injury to No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard or backup Jonathan Bernier. The 27-year-old is 32-50-9 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 104 games (87 starts) with the Flyers, Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Yzerman, who was hired as Detroit GM on April 19 after he had the same role with the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010-2018, said he will continue to take a measured approach in free agency this offseason.

"If the right player and the right contract come along, we would look at signing a winger or maybe another defenseman, but that's not a given," he said. "That would give us some options if our young guys aren't ready in September."

NHL.com correspondent Dave Hogg contributed to this report

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