Lightning sign free-agent Filppula to 5-year deal

Valtteri Filppula is getting an opportunity to once again team

up with Steve Yzerman.

Filppula signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Tampa

Bay Lightning on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday.

He leaves behind the Detroit Red Wings for Tampa Bay, where

Yzerman, his former teammate, is the general manager.

”We feel he is an outstanding, all-around centerman, who brings

a winning pedigree to our organization,” Yzerman said. ”He fills

a much-needed position for us at center.”

The Lightning weren’t done there. They also signed rookie

first-round pick Jonathan Drouin to a three-year, entry-level

contact. Drouin was the third pick in the draft last weekend. That

move came just as the Lightning prepare to open a rookie

developmental camp.

They will feature a new-look roster that will be minus Vincent

Lecavalier after the team elected to buy out the remaining years on

their captain’s contract. Lecavalier has since signed with

Philadelphia.

Filppula had shown flashes of promise during his previous eight

seasons with Detroit. After scoring 23 goals and finishing with 66

points in 81 games two years ago, he managed just nine goals and 17

points in 41 games last season.

He has extensive playoff experience, and had five goals and six

assists in 22 games in helping the Red Wings win the 2008 Stanley

Cup championship.

The Finn was the Red Wings’ third-round pick in the 2002 draft.

He broke in with Detroit in 2005-06, Yzerman’s final season as a

player.

The Lightning also signed minor-league journeyman forward Geoff

Walker to a one-year contract.