Detroit Red Wings: Is Tyler Bertuzzi’s future up in the air?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has a difficult decision to make in the coming weeks, and perhaps months; re-sign or trade forward Tyler Bertuzzi?

The NHL isn’t like the NFL, where an organization can use the franchise tag to maintain a player if negotiations stall. If the Detroit Red Wings fail to come to an agreement with Bertuzzi by the end of the season, he will be set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Also, if negotiations falter, don’t be shocked to see Yzerman shop the gritty forward ahead of the 2022-23 NHL trade deadline. Ironically, Bertuzzi’s name seems to constantly surface throughout the NHL rumor mill year after year. Still, if the two sides fail to find common ground in negotiations, this is the year it will actually make sense to move on from Bertuzzi.

Yzerman and the Red Wings remain in the midst of a rebuild but vastly improved this summer throughout free agency headlined by Andrew Copp, David Perron, Ben Chiarot, Dominik Kubalik, and Olli Mattaa. Detroit also bolstered their goaltending room by trading for Ville Husso, who will pair perfectly backstopping the Red Wings with Alex Nedelijkovic this season.

Considering all that, trading or losing Bertuzzi to free agency would be less than ideal.

Tyler Bertuzzi remains a vital asset, with the Detroit Red Wings expected to make a playoff push in 2022-23.

Bertuzzi is coming off a 30-goal season where he maintained nearly a point-per-game pace totaling 62 points over 68 games. The 27-year-old Sudbury native has recorded 84 goals and 188 points in 276 career games with the Detroit Red Wings.

It shouldn’t come as a shock if Bertuzzi has a desire to test the open market after seeing the amount of money that was tossed around this offseason, but it would be a significant loss to Detroit’s roster.

The veteran winger’s vaccination status has come into play over the past couple of seasons, limiting potential trade partners for the Red Wings. Due to the country’s quarantine rules, unvaccinated players won’t be available for Canadian teams on the regular. Over the past couple of seasons, it’s been reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs had shown an interest in Bertuzzi, but nothing serious ever materialized.

If Yzerman elects to trade Bertuzzi, the return for his services will be significant.

It’s worth noting that this past March, Bertuzzi mentioned that he hoped to remain with the Red Wings organization.

Recently, Yzerman described what he expects the team’s identity to be this season;

"“Harder to play against isn’t necessary in running guys through the glass or anything,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “It’s being more dogged on the puck, being more responsible with the puck, being tighter defensively, more diligent defensively, competing harder.“So Chiarot’s a big body (6-foot-3, 234 pounds). Maatta’s a big body (6-2, 210). Even Kubalik’s an offensive player, but he’s a big, strong guy (6-2, 179). So we want to be harder to play against because we’re better defensively, we’re more competitive and even we have more depth up front that we can match up better, whether it’s strong offensive teams or strong defensive teams.”"

With his future up in the air, doesn’t Tyler Bertuzzi fit the mold of the player Yzerman described above?

Bertuzzi isn’t just a physical winger that makes it tough on the opposition; he’s a gifted scorer and a valuable asset to Detroit’s group of top six forwards.

Yzerman must also get a contract extension hammered out with Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin. The Red Wings sit with roughly $8 million in cap space for the upcoming season, with an expected $29 million coming off the books after the season.

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There should be plenty of funds to sign Larkin and Bertuzzi to lucrative extensions, still preserving money to extend Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond following their rookie deals if Yzerman feels it makes sense moving forward.