As the NHL offseason takes hold, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in the midst of swirling trade rumors once more. According to Elliott Friedman, the Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently interested in Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi who played but nine games this season and is currently a restricted free agent. The segment about Bertuzzi begins at about the 7:50 mark, but this is what Friedman says in context:
“I think that’s a guy they’ve (Toronto) had some interest in. He was hurt last year at the deadline and i’m wondering if he’s one of the guys they look at. He plays a way that I think Toronto would like to add to their roster.
This of course brings up a whole host of new questions. First, what could Bertuzzi fetch? Second, would Yzerman even consider trading him? Third, of the core that was in place when Yzerman arrived (Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Bertuzzi), is Larkin the only one who will remain in the Winged Wheel?
What could Bertuzzi potentially get the Red Wings?
This is a tricky one. With him being injured last season, it really clouds not only his true value, but his overall health. Though Jeff Blashill indicated he expects both Larkin and Bertuzzi back in time, he still indicated it was essentially a day to day thing. In a short sample, Bertuzzi was a major part of Detroit’s offense. All things considered, Detroit could still get a good return.
Toronto only has three picks in the 2021 draft, but still have a first and a second in 2022. It’s assumed that the Leafs will be a playoff team, but will they advance beyond the first round (I say yes). One of the best ways, then, to measure Bertuzzi’s worth would be to look at what Yzerman got for Anthony Mantha.
Mantha had 21 points (11-10) in 42 games while Bertuzzi had seven points (5-2) in the nine he played. Beyond that, he was one of the most efficient players on the power play and hasn’t had the “lack of effort” moniker applied to him like Mantha did.
Knowing the haul that Yzerman received for Mantha (Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, 2021 1st and a 2022 2nd), it’s not out of the question that he could ask for something similar.
Nick Robertson isn’t an option. But what about Rasmus Sandin or Rodion Amirov? There’s no way they get both, but Amirov might be too new in the system (drafted 15th in 2020) to part with. He fits the Yzerplan scheme with his high hockey IQ, strong skating, and scoring prowess, but it may be too early for him to be part of a package for Toronto.
Sandin, on the other hand, would be another piece on the blue line Yzerman is building that could be a force for years to come. But at just 21 and certainly with decisions to make of their own on the blue line, would Toronto be willing to part with a prospect who appears to have a high ceiling and could be a stalwart on the blue line?
The Red Wings didn’t get a prospect for Mantha, but they did get Vrana whose returns were more impressive by the end of the season than his counterpart for whom he was traded for. Panik was there to balance out salary.
On the current roster, there isn’t an equivalent that meets Yzerman’s scheme or one that Toronto would be willing to deal. I know there are Leafs fans who are impatient with William Nylander, but I just don’t see him being dealt in a hockey deal for Bertuzzi. Adding Bertuzzi to have along with Nylander makes far more sense for Toronto.
This speaks to the reasoning that they part with a prospect instead of a player who’ s already established in the league as well as one of their most efficient players.
This could all just be rumors for rumors sake but it’s been written before that there are few Red Wings listed as untouchables when it comes to trades. The Athletic’s Max Bultman wrote about this back in April (behind a paywall) and included that while people could read into who Yzerman included on his list of the core, there’s still a lot of intrigue with what he could do in the offseason.
It doesn’t seem like it’s out of the realm of possibility that Bertuzzi is dealt. It also doesn’t seem unlikely that he remains and signs a reasonable extension. Heck, Yzerman inked Mantha to a four-year contract and dealt him a few months later. Clearly, that can’t be read into, either.
Friedman is pretty plugged into the league so if he’s indicating Bertuzzi is being targeted, there’s strong reason to believe so. He certainly fits the type of player they’re looking to add if you listen to what Toronto President Brendan Shanahan said in his end of the year remarks.
All that remains to be seen is whether the price will be right for both teams.