NHL

Lightning sign free-agent Filppula to 5-year deal

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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.

Tagged: Red Wings, Lightning, Steve Yzerman, Valtteri Filppula

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