The Detroit Red Wings fanbase responded with intrigue when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman indicated that the Maple Leafs being interested in Tyler Bertuzzi. After we looked at the options and speculating a bit after what a trade might look like with the Leafs, Friedman added more in his final 31 thoughts column of this season. Here’s what he added:
Don’t know if it still works, but Toronto liked Tyler Bertuzzi this season — moving elsewhere when it became obvious he wasn’t going to be healthy. Barring a major change, Zach Hyman won’t be back with the Maple Leafs, a big loss for them. It’s expected Detroit will be among his pursuers, although the Red Wings won’t be the only ones.
So this opens up more thoughts, which makes even more sense after Alex wrote a piece wondering if other members of the core, presumably Jakub Vrana, could also have general manager Steve Yzerman listening to offers.
So here’s a closer look.
What is the Red Wings Core and How Likely is it They’re Traded?
Would Yzerman actually deal another member of the core away? Gone are Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha–both named by Yzerman specifically during his opening press conference. Is Bertuzzi really next?
DetroitHockeyNow’s Kevin Allen writes that Bertuzzi is most likely to be re-signed, unless of course Yzerman gets an offer he can’t refuse. This seems the most conventional route, as the rumors from Toronto could simply be the Leafs not giving Yzerman what he feels is fair for the 26-year-old forward who provides punch and scoring.
Again, it would have to be in line with what Mantha generated and make sense for both the present and future of the organization. Which brings us to Vrana.
After his performance in Detroit, it’s fair to say, especially after Yzerman explained how Vrana could fit in for the Red Wings.
He was right. Vrana was a point-per-game player in Detroit, scoring eight goals in 11 games. And swapping him out for Mantha makes a logical leap that Vrana is part of the new core Yzerman is building.
Allen believes that the Bertuzzi rumor is one of the 95% of trade rumors that never pan out–unless of course–it’s too good to pass up. So the current core has to be Dylan Larkin, Bertuzzi, Vrana and potentially Filip Hronek.
How Can a Core Solidify if it’s Constantly Changing?
This is one that I’ve come back to. I honestly thought Mantha would put it together and ring up goals in Detroit as was expected upon his draft day. But it didn’t come to fruition and even after a hot start in Washington with a stronger roster, he fell back to the play that drove many Wings fans nuts: good not great.
Yzerman, in the video above, prefaced his comments that getting what he could for Mantha four years in advance instead of waiting too long was the prime reason for making the deal back in April. It clues in–even though he’ll never give away his timeline, that things are expected to turn around sooner rather than later.
This could be argued another reason why the Red Wings might be done dealing from the core and instead adding to and around it. Along with Larkin, Bertuzzi, Vrana, and arguably Hronek, Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond are seen as two critical pieces of that growing core.
Which then gives credence to Freidman’s remarks regarding Hyman–if Detroit is indeed going to pursue him, you’ll want to point to a stabilizing core as proof that things are moving forward. Hyman is outside the 26 and younger bar Yzerman set so the reasoning signing a contributor like him–who can score and play the 200 foot game essential to the Yzerplan, signifies a pivot in the rebuild–after all.
Going back to Allen’s piece, he also alluded to dealing Bertuzzi for William Nylander as it would bring back a top notch scorer in Nylander who is within that age range (25). My reasoning for it not happening is more that I felt Toronto would want Bertuzzi along with Nylander on the roster. But the finances may not allow for that.
Essentially, it all seems to boil down to whether or not the deal makes sense for the long term while providing the assets Yzerman wants for his core.
But there’s something to be said for consistency–and if there’s anything we know as fans, it’s that Yzerman will consistently maneuver pieces to get the desired end result–a Stanley Cup.
Watching Tampa the past two seasons should reassure Red Wings fans that while it’ll still take some time, Yzerman will do what it takes to get it done.
Whether that core resembles what it does now–once the time of contending begins–is for Yzerman to know and us to find out.