Ironically, former Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is the type of player general manager Steve Yzerman will be seeking in free agency this summer. Will a reunion between the two be on the table? It needs to be considered.
Bertuzzi, 28, got his first taste of the postseason at the NHL level over the past couple of weeks and exceeded many expectations, but Detroit Red Wings fans weren’t very surprised. The gritty winger is built for the postseason. Bertuzzi excelled in the playoffs during his stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins winning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy awarded to the most valuable player of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. In the span of 19 games, Bertuzzi totaled nine goals and ten assists, his 19 playoff points.
The pending free agent performed exceptionally well with the Boston Bruins despite being upset in game seven of the first round Sunday night by the Florida Panthers. Boston had a 3-1 lead in the series before dropping three straight. This follows a record-setting regular season where the organization won 65 games. It’s the latest example of the President’s Trophy curse, which Detroit Red Wings fans fully know.
The hard-working winger played as a top-nine forward with the Bruins, often in a top-six role. Over the seven games, Bertuzzi recorded five goals and five assists, totaling ten points. Bertuzzi averaged just shy of 18 minutes of ice time per night and skated to a minus-4 rating. The 28-year-old also amassed 26 penalty minutes and completed 18 hits and six blocked shots.
This production followed an injury-riddled regular season where at separate times broke each of his hands and also sustained a minor lower-body injury limiting his availability to 50 games. He totaled just eight goals but 30 points this past year. The veteran winger maintained a solid Corsi For Percentage of 54.5 and a Relative Corsi For of 2.6 in even-strength situations. While with the Detroit Red Wings this past season, Bertuzzi averaged a career-low 1.8 points per 60/minutes but boosted that number to 2.8 during his time with the Bruins for an average of 2.2. Oddly, Bertuzzi finished the regular season with a 4.4 oiGF (On ice goals for) this season which mirrored last season; basically, the team is scoring at the same clip per 60/minutes with Bertuzzi on the ice as they did the year prior when he totaled a career-high 2.8/points per 60/minutes.
Overall, it was a disappointing regular season for the pending free agent, but he certainly made himself some money this postseason. It comes as no surprise that Bertuzzi’s production increased following the trade from Detroit to the league’s best Bruins. There are plenty of questions surrounding the Bruins and Bertuzzi’s future. Surly, Boston wants to re-sign Bertuzzi following his stellar postseason, but like many of the league’s top teams, they are in cap hell and might be unable to retain him.
The Detroit Red Wings need to consider a reunion with Tyler Bertuzzi.
Yzerman was sent a first-round draft pick in 2024 and a fourth-round pick in 2025. The Detroit Red Wings have a plethora of draft capital heading into the 2023 NHL Entry Level Draft, which gives Yzerman plenty of flexibility. The Red Wings currently sit with two first-round selections and three second-round picks in this year’s draft, plus a pair of first-round choices next year. Detroit can use some of the capital to trade for a star player or rely on Kris Draper and their scouting department and make impactful picks.
During his end-of-season press conference, Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin mentioned that the team needs to get tougher this off-season.
"“Whoever it was, whatever their role on the other team — their tough guys — they kind of had free nights. I think that’s something that needs to be addressed, to have an answer to that.”"
Larkin mentioned that being a tough guy doesn’t necessarily mean fighting but letting the opponent know they will not be able to get away with cheap shots. Even Detroit’s head coach Derek Lalonde mentioned that players don’t need to fight all of the time, but players do need to stick up for each other. Yzerman also addressed the notion by saying he doesn’t need to go out and sign a 6-foot-6 player to ‘beat people up.’
Everything Yzerman, Lalonde, and Larkin have mentioned points to Detroit looking to add a player like Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi would easily fit back in with Detroit’s top-six but is Yzerman willing to pay and commit long-term to Bertuzzi? That is the multi-million dollar question. Bertuzzi will likely command around $6 million per season on a multi-year deal.
Bringing back Bertuzzi and perhaps targeting Alex DeBrincat or Kyle Connor via trade and adding a free agent or two will considerably accelerate the Detroit Red Wings rebuild.