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Red Wings Top 25 Under 25: Tyler Bertuzzi

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Our 25 players under 25 series continues with a look at Tyler Bertuzzi, a stick-flipping good left wing.

2014 Memorial Cup - London Knights v Guelph Storm Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tyler Bertuzzi made quite an impression during the 2016 Red Wings prospect camp, particularly in the stick-flipping competition. Today, we take a closer look at the left wing prospect.

Vitals

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

Born: Feb 24, 1995 (21 years old)

Birthplace: Sudbury, ONT

Height / Weight: 6’1” / 190

Stats

hockeydb.com

His 2015-16 AHL Season

Bertuzzi played the entire season with the Griffins, where his linemates changed as the season progressed. For example, on October 9, he played on a line with Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle. October 17, he lined up with Louis-Marc Aubry and Eric Tangredi. The line blending continued until about March, when Bertuzzi played with Tomas Nosek and Martin Frk, which continued for much of the rest of the season. During the playoff series against the Lake Erie Monsters, his line consisted of Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha.

Bertuzzi played on the power play consistently throughout the season, moving between the PP1 and PP2 units.

In the Griffins’ Report Cards (First Half and Second Half, Jason gave Bertuzzi a C and B respectively.

Halfway through the season, Jason said:

After an impressive showing in the playoffs last year, Bertuzzi found it much tougher going to start the regular season. He couldn't get untracked on the scoresheet, going 17 games before finding the back of the net. His physical play also crossed the line, leading to a suspension and a stint in the coach's doghouse. He eventually worked his way out it and has become a steady contributor at both ends of the ice. His speed and anticipation make him a great forechecker, and he excels at breaking up plays and getting in the way of passes and shots.

I’m going to come back to the suspension a little later.

At the end of the season, Jason said:

After a slow start to the season, Bertuzzi heated up down the stretch adding 9 goals and 16 points while playing his standard aggressive fore-checking game. For the second year in a row, he came alive in the postseason where his 7 goals in 9 games easily paced the team's top scorers. The feisty winger brings energy and agitates with his physical play, but is an effective offensive player as well, a rare combination of grit and talent. He needs to continue to work on his consistency and to keep his head and not take bad penalties, but should be on the cusp of his first taste of the NHL next season.

While Bertuzzi’s slow start to the season is concerning, he found his way and showed the organization more of what it wanted to see. The Red Wings could certainly use a player who can be physical and get under the other team’s skin, while also contributing offense. There is, however, a difference between getting under the other team’s skin and what Bertuzzi did on October 30.

The following day, JJ’s headline said it all: Tyler Bertuzzi Embarrasses the Griffins With Disgusting Slew Foot.

In case you missed it, here is the play:

Bertuzzi ended up with a two game suspension; he got off easier than he deserved. In an interview with MLive after the suspension was announced, Bertuzzi had this to say:

"I just want wanted to get him on the ice. I didn't mean for it to look so bad," he said. "I just wanted to get him on the ice and, obviously, it happened to be a slew foot. It was just a reaction thing."

It’s troubling for the future that Bertuzzi’s focus was on how it looked, not what he did. When trying to “get him on the ice,” a slew-foot should not be in the toolbag. While hopefully he will not resort to cheap shots like this in the future, the whole situation brings to mind how Justin Abdelkader’s over-the-line plays hurt the team in the beginning of the Tampa Bay series.

If there were are NHL spots available, Bertuzzi could be a candidate to get an NHL look this season. As it stands, he will likely be in Grand Rapids for most, if not all of this year. The logjam at forward, in addition to his waiver-exempt status will work against him this season. I would have much rather seen him than Ott on the Wings this year, but who knows, that may still happen.

Michelle’s reports from prospect camp showed that Bertuzzi is taking on a leadership role for the young players, which is certainly a good sign. Like many players, Bertuzzi’s role in the 2016-17 season depends on what roster moves are made before opening night.