Here’s the sixth feature on the eight potential unrestricted free agents for the Boston Bruins and whether or not they will return to play with the Bruins in the 2023-24 regular season or beyond.
After acquiring him at the 2023 NHL trade deadline, and watching him become a key cog in their lineup can the Boston Bruins bring back winger Tyler Bertuzzi?
On March 3, the Boston Bruins acquired Tyler Bertuzzi from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2024 first round pick (top-10 protected) and a 2025 fourth round pick with the Red Wings retaining 50 percent of Bertuzzi’s salary. Bertuzzi made an instant impact in his Boston Bruins debut with an assist, and finished the regular season with four goals in 12 assists in 21 regular season games. The 28-year-old, 6-foot-1, 186-pound winger then had five goals and five assists in the first seven Stanley Cup Playoff games of his career, tying Brad Marchand (4G,6A), for the team lead in points and Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak for the team lead in goals.
There’s no doubt that the Boston Bruins would love to lock Bertuzzi up long-term before he can hit the unrestricted free agent market on July 1, but is that really feasible given the Bruins’ salary cap restraints?
The Boston Bruins went all in heading into the 2023 March 3 NHL trade deadline, acquiring Bertuzzi from the Red Wings, and winger Garnet Hathaway and defenseman Dmitry Orlov from the Washington Capitals eight days before that. As Bruins general manager Don Sweeney pointed out in his final media availability on May 9, he and the team brass knew it was going to be difficult to retain any of those players given their impending salary cap hell they’re about to enter.
“I couldn’t just categorically sign those players today,” said Sweeney, when specifically asked about the three impending UFAs acquired at the deadline. “You know, our cap situation, we leveraged a little bit. Everybody knows our overage at [$4.5 million]. So, we have some constraints, as do several other teams around the league. Our goal was to put the season on the absolute best roster we could put together and try and take a real legitimate run and we failed, no question.”
Sweeney’s correct and given what Bertuzzi, hitting the UFA market in his prime can expect, it’s highly unlikely that he returns with the Bruins next season. AFP analytics has Bertuzzi landing a six-year contract that will carry a $5.2 million salary cap hit. If their projection is anywhere close to that, the Bruins will be saying goodbye to Tyler Bertuzzi.