Detroit Red Wings: Tyler Bertuzzi angling for a big payday in free agency

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Former Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is expected to cash in this summer as he is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career.

Bertuzzi, 28, is coming off an injury-plagued regular season but performed exceptionally well during Boston’s short-lived playoff stint. Bertuzzi had been a bright spot in Boston’s first-round postseason exit at the hands of the Florida Panthers, totaling five goals and ten points in seven games. That production followed a disappointing regular season where the gritty forward recorded just eight goals and 30 points over 50 games. The veteran winger had been coming off a 30-goal, 62-point season a year ago over 68 games.

It’s been reported that Bertuzzi is excited to explore unrestricted free agency. Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and Bertuzzi’s camp had contract discussions leading up to the NHL trade deadline, but nothing materialized. A source claims that Bertuzzi’s camp had been pretty set on hitting the open market this summer. Following his stellar postseason production, he likely earned himself a significant bump in pay.

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is excited to hit free agency.

“I know he made it clear to the Red Wings when they were discussing an extension with him that he was pretty intent on hitting free agency this summer,” the source told BHN recently. “His camp knew what he can get out there, and that’s probably more now after the way he played for the Bruins. I know the Bruins are trying hard to keep him, but given his desire to test the market for the first time and their cap issues, that will be difficult.”

Bertuzzi also mentioned that he and his family had enjoyed their time in Boston and wouldn’t be opposed to staying, but financially things are very complicated for the Bruins. Boston has roughly $5 million in salary cap space, with restricted free agents Jeremy Swayman and Trent Frederic left to sign, along with captain Patrice Bergeron and alternate captain David Krejci, who are both pending unrestricted free agents. Bergeron and Krejci may elect to retire, leaving a couple of holes in the Bruins lineup to fill. General manager Don Sweeney may need to get creative and look to deal a veteran like Taylor Hall, Jake DeBrusk, or Brandon Carlo to create some cap room. Bertuzzi is likely looking for a long-term deal that averages somewhere around $6 million annually.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Bertuzzi. “It’s a special group in here. It definitely stung a lot [losing in the first round]. We had more expectations and a better plan. We loved it [in Boston]. Honestly, we had such a blast. We were in the North End eating pasta every day and going for walks, so we enjoyed every day here. We could definitely see [staying here]. The fans here are awesome, the arena…everything. I loved it. Having a little girl that will be going to school soon, there will be a lot of factors that will be going in [to a free agency decision]. But I’ll make the decision.”

A reunion with Tyler Bertuzzi and the Detroit Red Wings wouldn’t be the worst thing if the two sides could agree on a fair term and dollar amount for both parties. That said, I always recall something former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland mentioned. “There are never any team-friendly deals in free agency.” Sure, it may not be completely accurate, as contending teams often land a veteran player looking to win a championship and is willing to take a bit less for the opportunity to do so. But, for the most part, players that hit the open market are, rightfully so, looking to maximize their value.

The Detroit Red Wings hope to get a bit tougher this offseason, and filling the void in the top six left by Bertuzzi will be one of the main concerns this summer, whether in free agency or via trade.

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