Trade Deadline Profile: Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Photo credit:© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
Over the next few weeks leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, I’ll be doing an in-depth look at the players who are on the trade block and whether they would be a good fit for the Edmonton Oilers. Today, we have Tyler Bertuzzi.
Who is Tyler Bertuzzi?
This is a player that Ken Holland knows well from his days in Detroit. The Red Wings selected Bertuzzi in the second round of the 2013 draft while his uncle (Todd Bertuzzi) was playing for the team and he emerged as an effective power forward in the NHL a few years later.
There was some skepticism around the Wings selecting Bertuzzi that high as he scored just 22 points in 43 games for the Guelph Storm in his draft season and he was ranked 207th overall for North American skaters in NHL.com’s Central Scouting. A couple of years later, the pick started to look like a steal, as Bertuzzi scored 43 goals and 98 points in 68 games in his final season in the OHL.
Bertuzzi’s hype continued to grow as he hit the ground running when making the jump from junior to professional hockey. In his first season in the AHL, Bertuzzi scored 12 goals and 30 points in 71 games while racking up 133 penalty minutes. The following season, Bertuzzi scored 12 goals and 37 points in 48 regular season games and then added 19 points in 19 games in the playoffs, earning the AHL’s playoff MVP after the Grand Rapids Griffins won the Calder Cup.
After spending one full season and parts of two more seasons in the AHL, Bertuzzi established himself as an NHLer with the Red Wings in 2018-19, scoring 21 goals and 47 points over 73 games in his first full season in the league. He had a nearly identical season in 2019-20 in terms of production, scoring 21 goals and 48 points over 71 games for the Wings.
The pandemic-shortened 2021 season was pretty much a write-off for Bertuzzi. He appeared in nine games and was shut down for the remainder of the season with a back injury and underwent surgery in April. In 2021-22, Bertuzzi came back and put together the best season of his career, scoring 30 goals and 62 points over 68 games.
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Unfortunately for Bertuzzi, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer, injuries have held him back from building on his 30-goal season.
Bertuzzi broke his hand in the second game of Detroit’s season and missed one month of play. He returned in November and played in seven games before breaking his other hand, which required surgery to fix. All told, Bertuzzi has two goals and eight points in 21 games in 2022-23.
Would he be a good fit for the Oilers?
Though he’s never played in the big dance because he came up with the Wings while they were on the downswing, Bertuzzi is the type of player that many teams would love to have on their side during heated, intense playoff games. Though it was years ago and wasn’t at the same level, Bertuzzi’s huge performance as a 21-year-old in the AHL playoffs back in 2017 helps to validate the suggestion he could be a big-game player.
The worry, of course, is whether or not Bertuzzi is anywhere near 100 percent. He’s suffered two broken hands this season and there’s a significant amount of wear and tear on his body because of the physical game that he plays.
Still, as we saw a couple of weeks ago when the Oilers played in Detroit, Bertuzzi’s injury issues aren’t holding him back from playing that kind of game…
Edmonton’s greatest needs right now seem to be a puck-moving defender and a veteran third-line centre but they could also use some scoring depth on the wings. Bertuzzi hasn’t scored much this season but he’s only one year removed from potting 30 goals. He also has bite to his game and would make the Oilers more difficult to play against.
What would the Red Wings want in return?
Steve Yzerman inherited Bertuzzi from Ken Holland and has signed him to two different short-term contracts, one for one year and the other for two. He’s now in the second year of a two-year contract worth $4.5 million annually signed shortly after undergoing back surgery in 2021 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
Given the fact that captain Dylan Larkin is a free agent after this season and Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond will be eligible for post-ELC contract extensions this summer, it seems unlikely that Bertuzzi will ink a new deal with the Red Wings. With that in mind, it would make sense for Detroit to deal Bertuzzi ahead of the March 3 trade deadline rather than letting him walk for nothing.
Since his season has been marred by injuries, Bertuzzi wouldn’t break the bank to acquire. He’s still only one year removed from scoring 30 goals so Bertuzzi won’t be available for free, but Yzerman surely wouldn’t be able to command two second-round picks from his predecessor this time around.
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