Tyler Bertuzzi is coming off a season with the Detroit Red Wings cut short by a lower back injury and subsequent surgery. Can he rebound less than a year later?
6th Season With the Red Wings
(Advanced Stats Courtesy of Evolving-Hockey)
Last Season with the Red Wings
Well, there isn’t much to write about here.
Through nine games, Bertuzzi looked like one of the best offensive forwards on the team, leading the team in goals and looking quite comfortable on the first line. However, injury cut the season short. In April, it was announced that he underwent a surgery on his back and the season was officially over for him.
Best Case Scenario This Season
Bertuzzi fully recovers from the injury and doesn’t miss a beat. He rekindles his chemistry with line mate Dylan Larkin and creates a new connection with whoever ends up on the first. The back injury might limit physical play initially, but Bert continues to build strength and endurance throughout the season.
Worst Case Scenario This Season
The injury lingers and Bertuzzi doesn’t look like the player he once was. Detroit fans know what it’s like to have a player ruined by a back injury – most recently, Danny DeKeyser comes to mind. Not only does he fail to score points, he fails to bring back that physical side of his game that was once his trademark.
The Prediction Part
Bertuzzi might be the hardest player to predict on the roster. There hasn’t been much talk in the offseason of his recovery or readiness to play, although it’s assumed he’ll be penciled in day one.
Bertuzzi has always been known for his high-compete and physical playstyle. While his physicality might take a dip for a year, expect Bert to keep his motor going and continue to produce offensively. While Bertuzzi’s season might not be quite as strong as ’19-’20, I think he’ll recover nicely from his injury and prove to Steve Yzerman that he belongs in the long term future of the team.
Possibility of Being a Trade Deadline Target: Possible
After trade rumors surrounding Bertuzzi started to buzz as the offseason kicked off, Yzerman (temporarily) quieted the rumors by re-signing for two years.
After the Mantha trade, just about any player seems to be a possible trade piece. At 26, Bert might be just a little too old for the rebuild timeline – could Yzerman flip him for assets like he did with Mantha?
The problem is, it’s very unlikely that a king’s ransom will be on the table for Bertuzzi, especially considering his recent injuries. Mantha was viewed as a very high-level talent that was just slumping on a bad team; Bert is more of the “gritty” hockey player that might not attract the sort of offers as the flashier Mantha.
But again, anything is possible. If Bertuzzi starts strong and garners interest from around the league, there might just be some strong offers heading Yzerman’s way on the deadline.
The Bottom Line
There’s really just one question for Bertuzzi for the season: can he bounce back from injury? Recovery isn’t instant, especially for a back injury in hockey. Fans should be patient with Bert, especially as the beginning of the season. There will be hits and plays that are intentionally avoided for self preservation, as he works his way towards recovery.
Bertuzzi is on a two-year deal. He doesn’t need to prove himself this year. The most important thing is that he gets healthy and stays healthy; a few extra goals on a rebuilding team is not worth risking worsening the injury or reaggravating it.
If Bertuzzi can stay healthy, it’s going to be interesting to see how he gels with an improved top-six, whether he finds himself opposite Jakub Vrana or on a line centered by Pius Suter.