BRIGHTON, MA – There will be a myriad of questions facing the Boston Bruins this offseason after a stunning, premature end to a hockey season with great expectations that fell way, way short. Not the least of those questions will be what awaits the talented group of players that arrived in Boston at the NHL trade deadline and all made solid contributions to the B’s after their arrival.
In many ways, 28-year-old Tyler Bertuzzi was a perfect fit for the Bruins and finished tied with Brad Marchand for the team lead in playoff points (10) while posting five goals and 10 points in seven games, including three power play goals while making things happen at the net-front position.
Tyler Bertuzzi fires home his second goal of the game.
3-3 game. pic.twitter.com/llajarnIwt
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 29, 2023
Bertuzzi was so good that Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery slotted him in at right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for Game 7, and Bertuzzi responded with a goal in over 20 minutes of ice time.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Bertuzzi. “It’s a special group in here. It definitely stung a lot [losing in the first round]. We had more expectations and a better plan.”
It was up-and-down at times for Bertuzzi as his minus-4 rating in the playoff series would attest to, but he was clearly a player that fit in with the B’s in terms of his hardnosed mentality and the skill to hang with Boston’s best players. The winger is facing unrestricted free agency, however, and will face a decision about his long-term future now that his two-year, $9.5 million contract originally signed with the Detroit Red Wings has expired.
Bertuzzi said he loved his short time in Boston and that they would be in consideration as his NHL home for the next stage of his pro hockey career while still in his prime years.
“We loved it [in Boston]. Honestly, we had such a blast. We were in the North End eating pasta every day and going for walks, so we enjoyed every day here,” said Bertuzzi. “We could definitely see [staying here].
“The fans here are awesome, the arena…everything. I loved it. Having a little girl that will be going to school soon, there will be a lot of factors that will be going in [to a free agency decision]. But I’ll make the decision.”
While Bertuzzi had an overall down season with eight goals and 30 points in 50 games while fighting through some injuries, he undoubtedly answered some questions with his four goals and 16 points in 21 games in Boston after assimilating following the trade from Detroit. Combine that with his playoff performance and being one season removed from scoring 30 goals and 62 points for the Red Wings in 2021-22, and Bertuzzi is probably looking at a raise from his $4.75 million salary for the last two seasons.
The question is whether the Boston Bruins will have the cap space to be able to keep him, or if they decide to move other players under contract after seeing what a good fit that Bertuzzi could be with the core group. Certainly, there will be some added incentive for the Bruins to retain Bertuzzi given that they gave up a first-round pick for the left winger as an insurance policy for the injured Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno.
It’s still early in the process, but it’s going to be interesting to see how things play out between the Boston Bruins and Bertuzzi with unrestricted free agency looming after proving he’s a playoff performer in his first foray into the Stanley Cup playoffs.