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Yea or Nay? Tyler Bertuzzi Might Be A Value Signing

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While the NHL Draft will captivate, and rightly so for the next two weeks, what about free agency? It’ll sneak around the corner as draft grades are submitted. Chicago Hockey Now will look at some potential free agent targets that could benefit the Chicago Blackhawks. Today we look at Tyler Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi is a player I know well covering the Detroit Red Wings, a second-round pick who rose through the ranks as a fan and teammate favorite. The 29-year-old posted a career year in 2022 with 30 goals, but hasn’t been able to replicate that since.

With Toronto, he signed a show-me deal worth $5.5M, potting 21 goals and 43 points in 80 games. The good news there is he played a full season as injuries have limited him in previous seasons.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of Tyler Bertuzzi and the Blackhawks.

Why Tyler Bertuzzi Works For the Blackhawks

Beyond being a favorite in the room, Bertuzzi is just a reckless force on the ice. Need him to block a shot? He’ll do it. Provide a hard check? Bertuzzi again. Score a big goal–he’s had a few. But the “Chicago Blackhawks hockey” mantra or identity pieces that Nick Foligno and Seth Jones spoke of is Tyler Bertuzzi.

He’s going to sacrifice his body and do the little things the Blackhawks need. Bertuzzi will play his role, which also includes that of an irritant under the skin of opponents.

A last piece – he’s familiar with many in the locker room already in both Nick Foligno and Andreas Athanasiou. The former picked him up from the airport when he was traded to Boston. The latter, once upon a time, was considered a foundational piece for the Detroit Red Wings.

Which brings us to the counterpoint.

Why Tyler Bertuzzi Doesn’t Make Sense for the Blackhawks

The foundational piece never really settled with the Red Wings. In a contract year following that 30-goal season, Bertuzzi was shipped to the Boston Bruins after failing to come even close to his career best a year prior. Though a fan favorite, there were rumblings that management wasn’t as fond of Bertuzzi.

While Bertuzzi saw an increase in points with the Maple Leafs, the goals didn’t come until later in the year. Detroit Hockey Now chronicled Bertuzzi’s struggles and 50 games into the season, the gritty winger recorded just six goals.

In his final 30? 15. So while he recovered well, another aspect of Bertuzzi is his streakiness. The Blackhawks, no offense to him, have enough of those players on the roster already. Beyond that, the late season surge likely earned a decent enough pay raise that might make him a little rich for the Blackhawks blood.

He’ll likely want some term, too, as he turns 30 next February. Between age, cost, term, and streakiness that might prove more maddening than magical for a team trying to escape a hellish two years of rebuilding.

Final Verdict

There’s no doubt that Bertuzzi could be a great depth piece for the Blackhawks but much of it would be contingent on what he’s looking for with price and term. General manager Kyle Davidson isn’t going to hand out a five-year deal to a winger who has been inconsistent the last few seasons. Perhaps overpaying a bit and keeping term at two years could work–but would Tyler Bertuzzi bite on that?

The forward would bring some snarl to a lineup that needs more of it, but an inability to score consistently for what will likely command a contract in the $5.5M to $6M range might just be a little too much. One final piece: Bertuzzi has chased a Cup now with the Bruins and Maple Leafs, with both ending in disappointing first round exits. The Blackhawks are at least two-three seasons away from really challenging for a playoff spot so is he willing to go through a similar route he did with Detroit?

There are certainly some fits there for sure, but if the price isn’t right, it’s probably a pass on the Blackhawks end.

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