Tyler Bertuzzi, Red Wings agree on 2-year contract

Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings kept busy during this offseason Saturday, signing Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year contract.

Bertuzzi, a restricted free agent, agreed to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million ($4.75 million per season salary cap hit). The two sides were able to agree on only a one-year contract the previous summer — worth $3.5 million -— with Bertuzzi filing for arbitration.

Neither side wanted this to go that route again, and a contract was worked out rather quickly.

“No wanted to go to arbitration, that wasn’t even in our heads,” said Bertuzzi Saturday on a media Zoom call. “We knew we’d get something done and get to even ground. I’m happy we did, and both sides are real happy.

“There wasn’t much going back and forth. Once there was a kind of a little bit of even ground, it was easy to say yes.”

Bertuzzi will be an unrestricted free agent when this contract ends, which he feels, is fair for both sides.

“Whatever works for both sides, it can’t be one-sided,” Bertuzzi said. “This way it gives me two years to prove I can stay healthy and still play and be good, and it gives them (time) to look at me and say ‘he’s healthy and good’

“It worked for both sides. Coming off a back injury, it gives me time to get back and prove myself and to just make sure everything is good.”

Bertuzzi, 26, was limited to nine games this past season before a back injury that required surgery ultimately cut short his season. Bertuzzi got off to a fine start, with five goals and two assists (seven points) in those nine game.

Having begun off-season training, the Wings are expecting Bertuzzi to be ready to begin training camp in September.

“Everything is going as planned,” said Bertuzzi, who added he expects to be ready to play for the start of training camp in September. “All restrictions are lifted in the gym. I’ve been skating. I skated this morning. Everything is going as planned.”

Bertuzzi dealt with rumors about potentially being traded this summer.

“There’s always going to be rumors,” Bertuzzi said. “At the end of the day I don’t have a say, so anything can happen, it’s hockey.

“But I can tell you I’m glad to be a Red Wing.”

Bertuzzi has noticed the aggressive Red Wings’ off season, with general manager Steve Yzerman acquiring defensemen Nick Leddy and Jordan Oesterle, goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, and forward Pius Suter.

“Some good players, a mix of older veterans that bring a lot to the team and can be there for the younger guys, and a few young guys that are really good in the league already,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m very excited. I know I talked to Larks (Dylan Larkin) and Fabbs (Robby Fabbri) yesterday and we’re all very excited for this year.”

Bertuzzi and Fabbri were teammates of Suter when the three played junior hockey in Guelph.

“For two years,” Bertuzzi said. “I didn’t really keep in contact (afterward). I know he went back to Switzerland and played over there for a while. I talked to him a little bit when he was in Chicago (last season). It’ll be cool to be playing with him again.

“He’s a great player and we’re looking forward to bring him over here.”

Bertuzzi has been working out regularly with Larkin, who is also recuperating from a neck injury that ended his season prematurely. The two have been skating regularly with a skating coach, and Larkin is progressing well.

During the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season, Bertuzzi set career highs in assists (27) and points (48), while scoring 21 goals for a second consecutive season. Bertuzzi was the Wings’ representative at the All-Star Game that season.

Bertuzzi has played in 208 games with the Wings, with 54 goals and 72 assists for 126 points.

With Bertuzzi signed, the Wings still have Jakub Vrana, Filip Hronek, Adam Erne and Givani Smith as un-signed restricted free agents. Only Vrana and Erne are arbitration eligible, the deadline for filing being Sunday at 5 p.m.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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