Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Tyler Bertuzzi of the Boston Bruins celebrates a goal against the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Bruins have had few mid-season additions who felt like a better fit than Tyler Bertuzzi.

Acquired on the day before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline and representing Don Sweeney’s truest “all-in” move of the season, Bertuzzi slid right in and not just produced but endeared himself to the fans by being a “little greaseball,” as Brad Marchand described him.

Bertuzzi should be a Bruin long-term, for multiple reasons that we’ll get into for this story. But is it possible? If so, what’s the cost? What (or who) needs to be sacrificed?

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  • Fortunately, Bertuzzi shouldn’t cost an impossible amount for the Bruins as a complementary top-9 winger. But he’s certainly due for a raise wherever he signs, after playing the last two seasons on a relative bargain at $4.75 million.

    Bertuzzi was one of the league’s more productive wingers after coming over Boston from Detroit. In that span, among 40 left wings with at least 250 minutes on the ice at 5-on-5, Bertuzzi ranked…

    — 7th in expected goals (16.2)
    — 9th in goal percentage (60.7)
    — 9th in high-danger chances (70)
    — 11th in CorsiFor percentage (55.7)

  • Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) shoots during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bertuzzi is still just 28 years old, so he should be in line for the maximum seven-year deal on the open market. The Bruins would have a leg up in that department by being able to offer him an eighth year.

    The question is average annual value (AAV). A solid comp is Penguins winger Jake Guentzel, who’s the same age and has played both wing spots. Guentzel has cost $6 million against the cap over the past four seasons and enters a contract year in 2023-24.

    Guentzel has certainly been more productive than Bertuzzi, averaging 39.4 goals per 82 games over the past five seasons. But it sure helps that he’s played a lot with Sidney Crosby over that span. Bertuzzi fit quite well playing opposite David Pastrnak for the Bruins, so if he stays, his best scoring seasons could still be ahead of him.

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Tyler Bertuzzi #59 of the Boston Bruins checks Anton Lundell #15 of the Florida Panthers during the second period of Game One of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on April 17, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    Rich Gagnon/Getty Images

  • In light of that, $6 million feels like the minimum AAV for Bertuzzi on his next contract. There’s a chance he could creep toward the $6.5 million mark, which would match the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher, but $7 million (Anders Lee of the Islanders) feels like the top end. Over that mark seems to reach another tier (Jason Robertson, Kyle Connor, Clayton Keller) that Bertuzzi can’t match.

    Wherever the final AAV lands, it’s doable. But of course, it won’t come without legitimate sacrifices for the cap-strapped Bruins.

    Apr 17, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon (34) makes a save on a shot from Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

  • The biggest sting in re-signing Bertuzzi would come on the forward lines. Boston went into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs with their deepest overall forward group in years, but keeping them all together won’t be financially feasible for 2023-24.

    If Sweeney decides to peel off a more expensive piece among his forwards, he’d be most likely to look at Charlie Coyle ($5.25 million for each of the next three seasons) or Taylor Hall ($6 million over the next two). The Bruins certainly view Bertuzzi’s most common linemates, Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha, as core pieces for the foreseeable future, so Coyle or Hall would be more plausible as trade chips, and their contracts shouldn’t be impossible to move.

    Another cost-cutting option would be to move on from Trent Frederic, who is a restricted free agent. He could cost in the $3-4 million range, so if the Bruins view him as a bottom-six forward in the big picture, they should be able to find one of those at a fraction of that cost.

  • The Bruins are also going to need to make a call on Jake DeBrusk, who is on the books for $4 million in 2023-24, the final year of his contract.

    In goal, Jeremy Swayman is a restricted free agent and figures to stick around, but will take up more of the cap than last year. Linus Ullmark could be a trade candidate at $5 million coming off a Vezina-caliber season. On the blue line, Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril, and Mike Reilly are the names to watch.

    It’ll be a tough decision for Sweeney to move any number of the aforementioned names, but if he wants to keep Bertuzzi around long-term, it’ll be necessary. Sweeney has already alluded to major roster changes and the team looking much different in 2023-24.

    Mar 12, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) during the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

    Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

  • If it means the Bruins can lock in Bertuzzi as a long-term cornerstone on offense, turning the page on older players and others that have struggled to fit in Boston could be worthwhile. Because Bertuzzi has fit like a glove, and better than most newcomers that have worn the spoked ‘B’ in this era.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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