Born: February 24, 1995 (22 years old)
Birthplace: Sudbury, Ontario, CAN
Height/Weight: 6’1” / 194 lbs.
Drafted: 2013, 2nd Round, 58th Overall, Detroit Red Wings
Bertuzzi got his first taste of NHL action as an emergency call-up when Darren Helm and Thomas Vanek went down with injuries early on last season. He appeared in seven games and didn’t register a point, while spending the majority of his ice time on the fourth line. The 22-year-old had a solid season with Grand Rapids in the AHL, recording career highs in assists (25) and points (37). His biggest impact came in the AHL playoffs where he scored nine goals and 19 points in 19 games, helping the Griffins to their second Calder Cup win in the last five years.
The biggest standout from Bertuzzi’s game is his energy. He skates extremely well and forces the defender’s hand by being strong on the forecheck. The winger can play in all situations and excels in a bottom six role or on the penalty kill. One thing that often gets overlooked is his ability to score — he’s a great finisher and had 12 goals in 48 games with the Griffins last season. Bertuzzi is always strong on the backcheck and in relentless pursuit of the puck, which makes him the prototypical two-way forward (something coaches love).
Since he is a high energy player, that can come at a price in certain stages of the hockey game. The aggressive tone and fearless initiation of contact with his opponents can often times land Bertuzzi in the penalty box. Back in 2015-16 he racked up 133 PIM in 71 games during his rookie year in the AHL, but he may have shown some promise with his decision-making after just 37 PIM in 48 games this past year. Bertuzzi’s discipline will be something to keep an eye on moving forward as it could be the difference between the press box and lacing up his skates for the Red Wings more often.
A Look Ahead:
Detroit’s salary cap situation heading into the 2017-18 season certainly makes things complicated to expect a 23-man roster. Considering all the cloudiness (Andreas Athanasiou is still without a contract at the time this was written), it would be tough to imagine Bertuzzi getting a chance to start the season in HockeyTown. Would I prefer to see him playing a bottom six role come October? Absolutely. However, Ken Holland has handcuffed this team with too many high priced, low value contracts and the most likely of scenarios is the young forward re-joining Grand Rapids to defend that Calder Cup victory. Bertuzzi projects to be a high-energy bottom six forward for the Wings in the near future and has the ability to be a top tier penalty killer in the NHL one day.