Introducing The Hockey Writers’ Countdown to Puck Drop series. From now until the puck drops on the 2019-20 NHL’s regular season on Oct. 2 when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators, we’ll be producing content that’s connected to the number of days remaining on that particular day. Some posts may be associated with a player’s number, while others will be connected to a year or length of time. We’re really excited about this series as we take you through the remainder of summer in anticipation of the return of NHL hockey.
With 59 days to go, we’ll look at Tyler Bertuzzi’s role with the Detroit Red Wings and what he can bring to the team in the future. Bertuzzi has quickly become a fan favorite in Detroit for his scrappy style and the role he plays as an agitator. Last season, the burgeoning forward earned 21 goals, 26 assists, and 36 penalty minutes in just 73 games. He earned increased ice time and a variety of highlight reel-worthy goals. At 24 years old, it seems like the future is bright for Bertuzzi. Today, we’ll dive into how he can be a difference-maker for the Red Wings for years to come.
Bertuzzi’s Performance Thus Far
Bertuzzi began his career with the Red Wings in the 2016-17 season, playing just seven games before being sent back to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. Playing in the big leagues seemed to motivate him, as he went on to win the Calder Cup with the Griffins, earning MVP honors along the way. This impressive performance stood out to the front office, who, after a series of roster moves, decided to give Bertuzzi a second chance. He spared no expense on his newfound opportunity, putting up seven goals and 17 assists in just 48 games. Coach Jeff Blashill was so impressed that he refused to send him back to the minors, stating that it wouldn’t do him any good to spend more time in the AHL.
Bertuzzi’s is known for making hard plays, using his body to nudge opponents off the puck to open scoring lanes for his teammates, like Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. He fought his way up from a grinding role to a top line winger, bringing a fire to the Red Wings’ locker room that has been missing for years. He isn’t afraid to stand up for his teammates as well; he’s shown a willingness to stand up to even the toughest opponents. Bertuzzi’s take-no-prisoners approach has shown us time and again why he’s an essential player on the Red Wings’ top line.
What Bertuzzi Can Bring to Detroit
While Bertuzzi has already shown us a little bit of his arsenal, it’s clear that he has much more to offer. At 24 years old, he hasn’t reached his prime yet; he’s put together 71 points in 121 games, playing up and down the lineup. He fills a similar role to Zach Hyman of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both play in their team’s top-six, generating key plays while opening up scoring chances for their linemates. Comparing Bertuzzi to Hyman shows that the two share the role as their team’s space-opening winger. Much like Hyman, Bertuzzi had to earn his role; now that he’s there, he’s bound to keep it going.
When Bertuzzi steps on the ice, he shows a relentless urge to give every game his all. While the team struggled, Bertuzzi pushed through, putting up surprising point totals while the Red Wings struggled to stay afloat during the season. This work ethic will prove to be a boon in years to come as the Red Wings move closer to contending. New prospects and players that make their way to the Red Wings will no doubt look up to Bertuzzi and his style of play in the future.Even coach Blashill seems to put a lot of stock in Bertuzzi, referencing his relentless urge to remain consistent and improve game in and game out.
“I’ve said this consistently all year, Bert, to me, has done a very, very good job. He’s really grown, just in front of our eyes right now, too. He’s just continuing to get better and better, (and) the consistency, to me, is the difference.”Jeff Blashill, Head Coach, Detroit Red Wings
What the Future Holds for Bertuzzi
While nothing is set in stone, it seems certain that Bertuzzi is poised to cash in on a longer bridge deal at the end of the 2019-20 season. He’s proven that he has the ability to remain consistent, putting up solid point totals during the toughest points in recent Red Wings history. His role in Detroit is integral; a bruiser with a penchant for scoring is almost an essential in today’s league. In the future, expect Bertuzzi to sign a bridge deal. Once his production increases, he’ll no doubt sign something more long-term while maintaining his role as a top-six agitator.
As far as career highs go, Bertuzzi seems like the type of player who will peak at mid-50 point production. Last year, Bertuzzi earned career highs in goals and assists, putting together 21 goals and 26 assists for a solid 47 points. Bertuzzi is only 24 years old; with that being said, he will no doubt improve as his linemates Larkin and Mantha grow into their roles. It’s fair to assume that Bertuzzi will have a few 20-goal seasons under his belt, given his ability to pick the right angles at the right time. With his work ethic and ability to maintain a calm composure on the ice, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bertuzzi fill in on the power play or penalty kill during important games.
It seems like the sky’s the limit for Bertuzzi. Here’s to hoping he has a long and fruitful career with the Detroit Red Wings.
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