Tyler Bartuzzi signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Maple Leafs.
Shayna Goldman: Several red flags were raised when it was reported that the Maple Leafs were chasing Bertuzzi. This winger embodies a hard skill that management seems dedicated to adding along with their star forward. But he is a complementary forward, not a star player, and such a sign should be secondary. Teams may want to become less competitive and have bona fide playoff producers, but Toronto can’t afford to hand out the checks to support players when elite talent isn’t locked up. Year.
The fact that it is only a one-year contract changes the situation. The team will need to find ways to cut costs, as there is still work to be done, including extending Ilya Samsonov’s contract. But the deal doesn’t necessarily put an end to Toronto’s mainstay forward. Because no funding was promised until 2024. However, it is clear that this could still happen depending on how contract negotiations with other teams go.
Next season is one of the best chances for the Leafs to make the playoffs. Because the cost increase causes a subtraction somewhere afterwards. So improving this roster in the meantime is in management’s best interest, and Bertuzzi’s skill set will help achieve that. With his talent in the front-of-the-net area and finishing talent, he should be able to help replace Michael Bunting’s role, propel the attack and deliver the blow. Especially back in his zone, he has some drawbacks that aren’t solely due to playing for a bad Red Wings team. As long as he has the defensive support to balance the game, it shouldn’t outperform what he brings, and fortunately, if it does, the Maple Leafs will give him did not commit. Even if he doesn’t stay beyond the 2023-24 season, in the worst case a one-year rental would cost the team that year’s cap space.
For Bertuzzi, this is a really great opportunity. After a less productive stint in Detroit, his time in Boston has clearly boosted his stock. He was affected by injuries, but it wasn’t until after the All-Star break that he really started to improve under the surface, even if his scoring didn’t back it up. But with the Bruins, Bertuzzi expanded his role in the regular season and came off as a substitute while the team dealt with year-end injuries. After that, he scored points in his first seven games of the NHL playoffs, showing that his fame in the postseason can also be played on the biggest stage.
The winger could have signed a big deal with a deadline now, but he’s actually making a very smart bet on himself. Evolving Hockey expected his four-year contract worth an average of $5.5 million. It’s already a win for Belluzzi to reach that value, as he would have fallen short of that cap on a one-year deal. Now the winger will likely have top-six minutes in Toronto, playing alongside an elite talent that will boost his numbers. If all goes well, that should give them even bigger raises when the cap is lifted next summer.
Contract grade: a
Conformity grade: a
Dom Rushchin: perfect salary. Perfect term. Exactly.
That’s the “too long I didn’t read” version, and to be honest, when it comes to Tyler Bartuzzi and the Leafs, that’s enough. A $5.5 million cap hit is pretty much in line with his market value, and the fact that it’s only a one-year term gives the Leafs incredible flexibility. It’s not a ‘steal’, but even without the big Bertuzzi signings already on the books, the new signings of Orston Matthews and William Nylander can be sharply focused. A big win for the Leafs.
The most important part is fit, and Bertuzzi is exactly what Toronto’s top six need after the departure of Michael Bunting. The Leafs have already done a proof-of-concept with his archetype, and Bertuzzi will be the latest player to benefit from being a third fiddle behind two superstar talents.
But what makes this all the more promising is that we already know what Bertuzzi brings in his own words. Bunting’s top-six performance has left many wondering how much of his performance was due to who he played with. Bertuzzi has no such questions. The fact that he’s already not far from Bunting is quite interesting if it weren’t for the benefit of playing with Matthews and Mitch Marner.
This means he has room to deliver more performances and could come closer to his performance in the 2021-22 season when he scored 30 and 62 goals in 68 appearances. We saw some of that against Boston, scoring 10 points in seven games while losing in the first round. And that’s also where the deal is a big win for Bertuzzi, even if he doesn’t get the terms he wanted. With caps rising in Toronto’s spotlight, the chances of cash going into next year are huge.
Despite his lack of scoring prowess, Bertuzzi was also a very talented playing driver and was always one of Detroit’s leaders when it came to influencing goals and expected goals. This is in good agreement with Toronto’s MO and means that he is not to blame even if there are patches of drought.
Sure, his injury issues are a concern, but it’s still a perfect deal for the Leafs. After a week of questionable deals, they needed a win, and this is a big one.
Contract grade: a-
Conformity grade: a
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