Red Wings & Maple Leafs Could Make Big Trade at 2023 Deadline

The Hockey Writers

The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is only a few weeks away, and the Detroit Red Wings are certainly a team to watch extremely closely during it. Although they have taken a step in the right direction this season, they are still five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Due to this, they are expected to be among the league’s biggest sellers at the deadline.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, have a 32-14-8 record and are easily one of the top teams in the NHL because of it. Due to this, they will be active buyers, and it seems possible that they could have a notable Red Wings forward on their radar. As a result, these two Atlantic Division rivals are emerging as trading possible trading partners.

Toronto Becoming Possible Landing Spot for Bertuzzi

Earlier this season, Ansar Khan of reported that the Maple Leafs are one of the most logical trade destinations for Tyler Bertuzzi because of their long-rumored interest in him. Yet, extension talks with Bertuzzi have not led to anything at this juncture of the season, and the chances of the Red Wings trading the skilled winger seem to be higher than ever. Therefore, if the Maple Leafs finally want to acquire the Sudbury native, now is the time for them to pull the trigger.

Tyler Bertuzzi Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although Bertuzzi has not had the greatest of seasons thus far, the reason behind it has been his injury trouble. In 21 games on the campaign, he has two goals to go along with eight points. However, he also has shown signs of improvement since returning earlier this month, as he has three points over his last four games. Therefore, if he continues to heat up, it would make sense for the Maple Leafs to go after him. Keep in mind, this is a player who also scored 30 goals and recorded 62 points in 68 games just last season.

NHL insider Jeff Marek recently reported that the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, and Tampa Bay Lightning are linked to Bertuzzi, so the Maple Leafs will have some competition for his services. Yet, on paper, there may not be a better fit for the scrappy forward than Toronto.

Bertuzzi Is Exactly What the Maple Leafs Need

When looking at the Maple Leafs’ current roster, it is hard to find too many flaws. This is why they are currently one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and stand a real shot of breaking their first-round curse this spring. However, at the same time, they would be wise to add another high-impact winger with grit to their roster before the deadline passes. Therefore, in my opinion, Bertuzzi stands out as the perfect trade target for them because of it.

Related: Red Wings: 3 Teams That Could Join the Bertuzzi Sweepstakes

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When looking at a potential fit for Bertuzzi in Toronto’s lineup, it is fair to argue that he would be a strong upgrade over Calle Jarnkrok on their second line. A trio consisting of Bertuzzi, John Tavares, and William Nylander has the potential to be lethal, and it could be exactly what the Maple Leafs need to get by their Eastern Conference rivals like the Lightning, New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Boston Bruins. Yet, Bertuzzi could also be given third-line minutes and make their top nine significantly better moving forward in the process.

The Maple Leafs are in a position where they should be looking to make one last big move by March 3. While playing at his best, Bertuzzi provides excellent offensive production, immense physicality, and strong two-way play, so he is exactly the player the Maple Leafs need for the postseason.

Potential Trade Between Red Wings & Maple Leafs

Although Bertuzzi has had a down year, it is still possible for the Red Wings to land a good return for the 27-year-old. This is because multiple teams have confirmed interest in him, and that should only increase as we get closer to the deadline. As a result, if the Maple Leafs want to successfully acquire Bertuzzi, they would likely need to part ways with their 2024 second-round pick and a notable prospect like Topi Niemela. Alex Kerfoot or Pierre Engvall could be added to the trade to help it work out financially. With that, Detroit could also retain half of Bertuzzi’s salary.

Topi Niemelä Team Finland
Topi Niemelä, Team Finland (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Niemela is an intriguing prospect who has the potential to become a top-four defenseman at the NHL level later down the road. With the Red Wings still being in a rebuild, he is exactly the kind of prospect that they should be aiming to acquire in a Bertuzzi trade.

However, if a part of the trade involves Bertuzzi immediately signing an extension with Toronto, the Red Wings could also ask for top prospect Matthew Knies instead of Niemela. The 20-year-old winger is having an excellent sophomore season with the University of Minnesota, as he has 17 goals and 31 points in 30 games played. When noting that he has all the tools to become a top-six power forward at the NHL level, he would be a home run of an acquisition for Detroit.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs have the potential to complete a trade centering around Bertuzzi at the deadline. We will need to wait and see if that does in fact come to fruition from here.

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