DETROIT – Valtteri Filppula will be driving to Joe Louis Arena Wednesday with a familiar face, his older brother Ilari.
The brothers will take part in an informal skate today along with a number of other Red Wings as they prepare for training camp that begins Sept. 16 in Traverse City.
“It’s exciting for sure,” Valtteri said. “I’m real happy about that. Hopefully everything goes well.”
Ilari, who is three years older than Valtteri, was spotted by a scout playing in Finland where he finished with 12 goals and 37 assists in 58 games while playing for TPS.
The Wings got more intrigued when, in 15 playoff games he had two goals and 12 assists. Because of his efforts, Ilari was awarded the Jari Kurri Award as the Finnish Elite League’s playoff MVP.
“They weren’t talking to me (about him),” Valtteri said. “I guess a scout saw him and really like what he saw. He’s been playing well and deserves a chance.”
The Wings signed Ilari, who arrived in Detroit Monday, this summer to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll make $500,000 if he makes the team out of camp or $105,000 if he’s sent to Grand Rapids.
“He really didn’t have to think about it when they made the offer,” Valtteri said. “He was real excited about it.”
Valtteri said his brother is good with the puck and sees the game well.
“He’s a good passer,” Valtteri said. “He’s more of a playmaker style of play. There are some differences (between us) and some similarities. It’s tough for me to evaluate.”
Valtteri said he has only been able to play two games with his older brother because of the three-year age difference, which is making him really look forward to skating with him at camp.
“It’s really going to be fun,” Valtteri said. “He’s a different player than me.
“I don’t think he’s going to feel any pressure,” Valtteri added. “At least I hope not. He’s telling me that. He just needs to focus on playing well.”
Valtteri is also looking to improve on his numbers. After missing a length of time with a broken wrist, he finished with a career-low 11 goals. He also had 24 assists.
“I’m just hoping to improve,” Valtteri said. “I hope I can help the team more and stay healthy. I just need to shoot the puck more and go to the net more.
“I don’t think about points too much, that puts on too much pressure,” Valtteri added. “If you play well, you play on the power play and those things will happen.”
Valtteri is penciled in to center the Wings’ second line, alongside Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen.
“They’re both really good players and it’s going to be fun to play with them,” he said. “I played with both of them some last year. They’re big. And they play good defensively so we should do well in that area also.
“It always helps when you know a little bit ahead of who you’re going to start with,” Valtteri added. “But things can happen. We have a really good team and it shouldn’t matter who you play with.”