The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a significant acquisition this offseason by signing free agent forward Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year contract. Bertuzzi, who was highly sought after in the market, agreed to the deal on Sunday. The team announced in a news release that the contract will have a salary cap hit of $5.5 million. This signing ensures that Bertuzzi will continue playing in the Atlantic Division after finishing last season with the Boston Bruins.
Bertuzzi’s Impact on the Bruins and Ambition for a Long-Term Deal
During the previous season, Bertuzzi joined the Boston Bruins as a late-season addition, where he became a valuable member of coach Jim Montgomery’s forward unit. He contributed to the team’s success by bringing additional grit to the high-flying Bruins. Known for his ability to create chaos in front of the opposition’s net, Bertuzzi’s presence was a constant nuisance for his opponents.
Being the son of former NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, Tyler Bertuzzi concluded the final year of his previous contract, which had a salary cap hit of $4.75 million. Therefore, the new contract with the Maple Leafs represents a modest raise for the veteran player. The one-year term presents an opportunity for Bertuzzi to prove himself on a contending team, maximize his production, and potentially secure a long-term deal next summer.
While Bertuzzi’s agent, Todd Reynolds, acknowledged that a long-term contract was initially sought after, the Boston Bruins believed they could not meet Bertuzzi’s asking price. As a result, Bertuzzi explored the free agent market. However, as both Reynolds and Bertuzzi observed the landscape of free agency, they decided to pivot towards a short-term deal with a contending team. The Bruins had already moved on to other matters and no longer had the salary cap space to bring him back even if they desired to do so.
Bertuzzi’s Value and Offensive Consistency
Tyler Bertuzzi, at the age of 27, garnered attention during several trade deadline rumors due to his vaccination status. His decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine led to speculation that his trade value might be limited, particularly among Canadian teams. However, the former second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings possesses the ability to play tough minutes up front for a contender, both in special-teams situations and at even strength. His 6-foot-1, 186-pound frame often places him at the center of after-the-whistle scrums with the opposition.
While Bertuzzi’s offensive capabilities are sometimes inconsistent, he has demonstrated his scoring prowess in previous seasons. With the Red Wings, he achieved over 20 goals in three of his seven seasons, including a career-high of 30 goals two seasons ago. However, there have been seasons where he struggled to find the back of the net, scoring only seven goals in the 2017-18 season and eight goals over 50 games in the most recent season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a significant move by signing Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year contract. This deal not only provides Bertuzzi with a modest raise but also allows him to have a “prove it” season with a contending team. While his offensive consistency may be a concern, his physical presence and ability to contribute in various game situations make him a valuable addition to the Maple Leafs’ roster.