Waiting In The Wings: Tyler Bertuzzi

 

Tyler Bertuzzi

Photo credit Mike Clark (Mlive.com)

22 Years Old

6’0″ 190 Lbs

Left Handed

Selected 58th overall 2013

The year is 2013 and the Detroit Red Wings walk into the NHL entry draft with the 18th overall pick. Just before the Red Wings take to the podium it is announced that they and the San Jose Sharks have entered into a trade. San Jose took the 18th pick and in return the Red Wings received the 20th overall and the 58th overall pick which was originally held by Pittsburgh. For those that don’t know the Wings would go on to select Anthony Mantha with the 20th pick, Zach Nastasiuk with the 48th pick, and of course at 58 they would take Tyler Bertuzzi.

‘Lil Bert, as he has been affectionately nicknamed, spent four years with the OHL’s Guelph Storm. Two years before being drafted, putting up average numbers but showed quite a bit of potential. That perceived offensive output would be put on display immediately in the seasons following that draft in 2013. In the two seasons post draft, Bertuzzi would put up 35 and a staggering 98 points and an OHL championship. In that final season with the Storm Tyler put up 43 goals and 55 assists, while it is a junior league those are still impressive numbers. Especially considering he would then be moving up to the AHL.

Coming into Grand Rapids Bert certainly found success. Managing 12 goals and 30 points in his first campaign with the Griffins. Bertuzzi would join a Griffins squad that was two years removed from winning their first championship and seeing players such as Tatar, Nyquist, and Mrazek be moved up to the NHL. This created a slight void that management hoped Bertuzzi would be able to fill. He definitely came in and met expectations, showing he can contribute not only on the score sheet but away from the play. He has shown a consistent ability to drive the fore-check, forcing his opponents into hurrying their decisions and capitalizing on the mistakes. Also not one to shy from throwing his body around, he creates turnovers through tough checks and more often than not gets under the skin of other players. Bertuzzi is definitely an agitating player, it both has helped and hindered his teammates. In his first season his rough play earned him 133 penalties in minutes. Being in the box that much has more implications than just the potential scoring opportunities against his team, its a significant amount of time he is off the ice and therefore lessens his development. This must have been brought up to him, as his PIMs dropped to 37 in the following season. This allowed Bertuzzi to contribute more and lead to a very successful season for the Griffins. It would end with the Griffins 2nd championship title and Bert would be recognized as the AHL’s playoff MVP, providing 9 goals and 19 points in 19 playoff games.

Unfortunately the 2017 season wouldn’t start off as successfully as the 2016 season ended for Tyler. Coming into camp with the Red Wings it was a hope from the fan base that they would see him make the NHL squad, but an unlucky injury would postpone his start in the AHL. Once he did return though he quickly found his stride. Through 12 games with the Griffins, Bertuzzi has 5 goals and 4 assists. This production has earned him his first recall to the Red Wings on December 8th.

The hope is that he can come into the lineup and inject some speed and offensive support to a struggling Wings team. If it doesn’t exactly work out, it won’t hurt to have him back in Grand Rapids where he can build up more confidence and experience. In the end I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see Bertuzzi as a regular in the winged wheel. In my own opinion I see him fitting in a bottom 9 role, a vital piece of secondary scoring who can drive possession.

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