Projecting Tyler Bertuzzi’s New Red Wings Contract

While a contract extension for Dylan Larkin may be the top priority for Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings, Tyler Bertuzzi’s new deal isn’t far behind.

Related: Projecting Dylan Larkin’s New Red Wings Contract

Bertuzzi is about to enter the final year of his contract and can sign an extension at any point. His current deal pays him $5.25 million this season, and has a cap hit of $4.75 million. Like Larkin, he’s due for a raise – but for how much? Let’s dive in and find out.

Negotiation Between the Red Wings & Bertuzzi

By this point, Bertuzzi’s agent Todd Reynolds should be familiar with Yzerman and the Red Wings. They have already negotiated a couple of Bertuzzi’s contracts, plus deals for Adam Erne, Calvin Pickard, and others.

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When the two sides meet to discuss Bertuzzi’s next contract extension, there will be plenty of options on the table. Both term and salary could vary widely, depending on player and team preferences.

Tyler Bertuzzi Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Starting with term, Bertuzzi wants stability. The Red Wings are likely on the same page about keeping him long term. Just how long, though, is up for debate. 

Bertuzzi’s playing style suggests that his impact will start to dwindle as he enters his 30s. He doesn’t skate particularly well and plays a physical game. Surely, the Red Wings don’t want to have a costly, Milan Lucic-type player on their hands down the road. 

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So if Bertuzzi’s representation pushes for a seven- or eight-year deal and the team is thinking five or six years, there may be a hang up. To resolve this, one side could offer a concession – accept the other’s term and get the salary that they want (or vice versa). It will be interesting to see which side pushes for what (and what is conceded in return).

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.
How will Steve Yzerman approach a long-term deal for Tyler Bertuzzi? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Moving on to salary, this is Bertuzzi’s best chance at earning a big payday. It isn’t a selfish opportunity – he won’t be playing hockey forever. But because of this, expect the winger’s new AAV to begin with a six, if not something higher.

Another thing to keep in mind is how Detroit’s recent signings will impact Bertuzzi’s ask. For example, Andrew Copp just landed a six-year deal with the Red Wings that will pay him $6 million-plus in three of the six years. You have to think this contract comes up in negotiations as a reference point.

Related: 4 Candidates for Red Wings’ Alternate Captain Vacancies

And as I mentioned with the Larkin contract projection, if the two sides fail to reach an agreement in the near future, they can walk away and try again toward the end of the season. However, there’s risk in doing so. Injuries, exceeding/failing to meet expectations, and other contracts signed in the interim will have an impact on future negotiations. The two sides will need to consider these potential risks when thinking about walking away.

Now that we’ve reviewed the different elements of this negotiation, let’s move on to the contract projection itself.

Red Wings/Bertuzzi Contract Projection

Earlier this summer, I put together a model to project NHL contracts. Based on Bertuzzi’s statistical profile and other variables, he most closely resembles Valeri Nichushkin, Andres Lee, and Zach Hyman.

To properly assess Bertuzzi’s comparables, let’s evaluate their contracts, which are shown in the table below:

PlayerYear SignedTermAAVCap Hit %
Valeri Nichushkin20228 Years$6,125,0007.42%
Anders Lee20197 Years$7,000,0008.59%
Zach Hyman20217 Years$5,500,0006.75%

All three of these top-six power forwards signed long-term deals in their late-20s. But because they put pen to paper in different salary cap environments, we need to dig a little deeper. Cap hit percentage—AAV divided by the salary cap upper limit when the contract went into effect—allows us to do just that. 

Using cap hit percentage as a common ground, here’s what the three contracts would look like when applied to the 2023-24 salary cap, which is expected to be $83.5 million:

  • Valeri Nichushkin: 7.42% x $83.5 million = $6,195,700
  • Anders Lee: 8.59% x $83.5 million = $7,172,650
  • Zach Hyman: 6.75% x $83.5 million = $5,636,250

Essentially, this conversion points to an AAV range of $5.6 million to $7.2 million for Bertuzzi’s new contract. It’s reasonable to expect that his deal will fall somewhere around the midpoint of the range – he already makes $5.25 million and the maximum was given to a former 40-goal scorer and current team captain.

With that being said, I have Bertuzzi and the Red Wings agreeing to a six-year, $37 million contract ($6,166,667 AAV). This deal would include no-movement protection up front and keep Bertuzzi in Detroit through the 2028-29 season.

Final Word

My projection would ensure that Bertuzzi remains a Red Wing until he’s 34 years old. It would offer the winger stability and pay him a fair amount for his on-ice contributions. In addition, the $6.17 million AAV wouldn’t handcuff the Red Wings.

That said, I want to highlight once again that contracts are often the result of extensive, nuanced negotiations. My projection doesn’t factor in priorities and motivations that are known only by the parties involved. But if the Red Wings and Bertuzzi’s representatives are looking for a mutually beneficial agreement, the projected contract above would accomplish just that.

Data courtesy of CapFriendly and Natural Stat Trick.