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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Two Finns

Valtteri Filppula is the only Finn to ever play for the Detroit Red Wings. With the signing of free agent Ville Leino over the weekend to a one-year entry-level contract, there's the possibility of another Finn in the Detroit locker room next season.

Filppula talked with Leino when he was in Detroit last Friday, answering questions. Filppula, 24, is five months younger than Leino. The two were opponents in the Finnish elite league for two seasons and played against each other at the junior level before that.

Filppula offered a theory as to why Leino was not drafted and remained an unrestricted free agent up until inking a deal with Detroit at the age of 24. Filppula said that Leino played on third and fourth lines in Finland for years before being used on a scoring line for Jokerit this winter.

"He's really not that type of player (checker)," said Filppula. "Now the last year, he's been top lines and he's been able to do a lot of good things. Obviously he's been playing really well. … He has really good hands, good skill. That's what I always remember from him. He protects the puck really well."

Filppula laughed and went along with the joke when asked if it would be nice to add another Finn in a locker room with so many Swedes.


Anonymous Brandon Allin said...

I have a good feeling about this kid, and I'm hoping he proves to be a steal. I was a bit disappointed when the Wings missed out Brunnstrom, Leino has eased my pain for the time being. His numbers just appear too good to ignore. What do you project from Ville, Bruce?

May 12, 2008 at 6:58 PM 
Blogger Bruce MacLeod said...

Tough to project. I'm not good on converting Finnish elite stats into NHL potential. Two things that weaken Leino's credentials ... he's only been a scorer for one season in Finland and he's older (25 in October) without having much success. He wasn't drafted, wasn't signed and couldn't get on a scoring line in Finland let alone the NHL.
That said, he's free and I love that. Free as in the Red Wings had to give up nothing to sign him. He's well worth the risk of a one-year entry-level contract.

May 12, 2008 at 7:03 PM 
Blogger Avik Roy said...

The book on Leino appears to be that he has great hands, is good in the corners, but lacks NHL speed. Makes one pause. Then again, Brett Hull lacked NHL speed...

May 12, 2008 at 7:48 PM 

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