On several occasions, Bertuzzi attempted to return to the ice and went through casual, individual skates. But it was apparent after the weeks began to build up that surgery could become a necessary option.
As Kulfan wrote earlier in the story, the “mystery” that kept Bertuzzi out of the lineup for all but nine games was a huge blow to the Red Wings offense. In those nine games, Bertuzzi had seven points and ended up leading the team in goals for a good chunk of the season. Though the Red Wings would find their footing eventually but it was still a far cry without Bertuzzi.
With Bert Back next season, the Red Wings are Stronger up front
Without knowing much of what Steve Yzerman will be doing, the players who are returning has the potential to be a strong top six believing that Jakub Vrana is re-signed. The top six could include Bertuzzi, Vrana, Filip Zadina, Dylan Larkin, Robby Fabbri, and possibly Michael Rasmussen, with the option of Ras or Fabbri playing on the wing. Again, this is just what seems likely now. Yzerman will be adding through free agency, possibly trades, and maybe even letting rookies like Lucas Raymond or Jonatan Berggren get a shot at the big club.
Another Affordable Deal is on the Horizon
Yzerman has a boatload of cap room heading into the offseason and Bertuzzi is again a restricted free agent. Even with the injury limiting him, a slight raise seems likely as he still posted five goals in nine games, and the power play was utterly decimated as soon as he was off the top line. Term will be the more interesting question. With cap room being even more aplenty heading into the 2022 offseason, could Yzerman provide another show me contract for Bertuzzi?
The Red Wings shed another $20 million and perhaps the thought would be to see if not only Bertuzzi produces again, but can stay healthy as well. Heading into his unrestricted free agent year, Bertuzzi will be 27 by the time July 1st hits. Is he in Anthony Mantha territory where he might be “too old” for the Red Wings as they escape the rebuild phase?
It’s been speculated with Larkin as well, but in some regard, you need veteran players to guide the process. Bertuzzi is well liked, and has produced consistently in his last three seasons, sans the injury that took him out.
It will be another wrinkle to what is building into a very compelling offseason.