The Detroit Red Wings have a big decision to make when it comes to Tyler Bertuzzi‘s future with the team. The scrappy winger is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and is arguably one of the Red Wings’ top rental candidates. If negotiations with the 2013 second-round pick end up not leading to an extension before the 2023 Trade Deadline is here, we very well could see the Sudbury native moved. After all, he is too valuable of an asset to potentially lose for nothing through free agency.
If Bertuzzi is officially made available, we will surely see several teams make a push for him. Let’s look at three specific clubs that stand out as potential landing spots for him now.
Many hockey fans assumed that the Calgary Flames were going to be among the league’s top teams this season due to their success last year and their offseason moves. Yet, at the time of this writing, they have an underwhelming 20-14-9 record and are fighting to maintain their wild card spot. A major reason for their inconsistencies this season has been their lack of scoring, and NHL insider Frank Seravalli noted that the Flames’ primary objective should be to add a scoring winger because of it. Bertuzzi certainly fits that description when he’s healthy and playing at his best, so there could be a match here.
When looking at the Flames’ current roster, it is fair to argue that he would fit well right on their second line. After all, he would be a significant upgrade over Milan Lucic in the top six, as he offers far more offensive production. The idea of a second line consisting of Bertuzzi, Nazem Kadri, and Jonathan Huberdeau should certainly interest the Flames, as that has the potential to be a spectacular trio. With that, Bertuzzi would be a solid addition to their power play due to his strong net-front presence.
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The Red Wings would likely want a second-round pick and prospect in any move centering around Bertuzzi. Perhaps a player like Matthew Phillips could grab the attention of the Red Wings. The 24-year-old forward has been lighting up the American Hockey League (AHL), as he has 21 goals and 40 points in just 28 games. Yet, the Flames never seem to give him real chances, so perhaps a change of scenery to Detroit could benefit him.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are having a very strong regular season, but they should be looking to make some moves at the trade deadline to help bolster their roster. They would benefit from adding another winger to their group, as they could use a jolt to their top six. In a recent piece on MLive.com, Ansar Khan noted that the Maple Leafs have been rumored to be interested in Bertuzzi for a long time, so it feels fair to argue that they could be a potential landing spot for him (from ‘Red Wings mailbag: Will Bertuzzi, Berggren, Hellberg stick around?,’ MLive, Dec. 12, 2022).
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The Maple Leafs could use another left winger at this time, and Bertuzzi seems like the perfect fit on paper. He would be an upgrade over Calle Jarnkrok on the team’s top line, but he also could fit beautifully on their second line. Yet, besides being a solid offensive player, Bertuzzi’s immensely physical style of play also should make him an appealing target for the Maple Leafs. After all, this element of his game would certainly be beneficial when the postseason rolls around.
Along with a second-round pick, the Red Wings could certainly find a prospect like Alex Steeves intriguing. After recording a 46-point campaign in 58 games last season with the Toronto Marlies, the 6-foot forward has 12 goals and 31 points in 34 games this season. Overall, the potential of him becoming a middle-six forward seems to be there, so he could make a lot of sense for Detroit to consider.
New York Islanders
After missing the postseason last year, the New York Islanders are having a bit of a better season in 2022-23. However, due to a four-game losing streak, they are now sitting out of a playoff spot. The Pittsburgh Penguins are one point ahead of them for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but they also have played two fewer games. As a way to help get things back on track, the Islanders should be aiming to bring in a scoring winger before the deadline. Naturally, Bertuzzi stands out as a strong trade target for them because of it.
Over the last few seasons, the Islanders have needed a top-six winger, but general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello has failed to bring one in. Yet, with the trade deadline right around the corner, he can help finally change that by bringing in a forward like Bertuzzi. When looking at New York’s lineup, he could fit quite nicely on either their first or second line. Yet, if he were to play on a line with star center Mathew Barzal, it certainly could lead to him putting up significant goal totals. Keep in mind, even with struggles this campaign, he did have a 30-goal season just last season.
When it comes to a potential return for Bertuzzi, a second-round pick and a prospect like Robin Salo could get the job done. Salo seems like he could use a change of scenery, as the 24-year-old defenseman has had a lot of trouble cementing himself a permanent spot on their NHL roster. Yet, he has been effective in 11 games with the Islanders this season; he has two goals to go along with four points. Overall, it is clear that he has the potential to be a bottom-pairing defenseman at least, and joining a team like Detroit could provide him with more opportunities.
Alas, Bertuzzi has the potential to be a significant addition to any of these three teams if he’s officially made available. We will have to wait and see if Detroit ends up inking the agitating winger to a contract before the trade deadline is here. If not, do not be surprised to see him dealt to another club before it passes.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.