The fact is that Tyler Bertuzzi is different than anyone the Toronto Maple Leafs’ have had in a long time. On Day 2 of the free-agent signing period, the Maple Leafs made several key signings.
One notable addition to the team is the power forward Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi brings a unique blend of physicality and offensive skill to the team. The Maple Leafs signed him to a one-year contract worth $5.5 million, which seems to be the rage these days. Short contracts might be around until the salary cap rises.
Given his skillset and attitude, Bertuzzi is expected to be an upgrade over the recently departed Michael Bunting. However, he offers more. He brings a totally different dynamic and one that’s been missing for quite some time.
In this post, I’ll take a look at four things I believe Bertuzzi brings to the Maple Leafs.
What Bertuzzi Brings One: He Brings a Physical Presence & Offensive Skill
Bertuzzi is known for his heavy, tough style of play. He adds grit to the Maple Leafs’ top-six forward unit. While star players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner provide exceptional skill and finesse, Bertuzzi brings a physicality that can be invaluable.
The team should find that especially useful during the intensity of postseason matchups. He has the ability to use his body effectively to score goals. At the same time, he’s able to agitate opponents. That sets him apart from other players on this team.
What Bertuzzi Brings Two: Can He Have a Breakout Season?
Despite a slow start last season due to injuries, Bertuzzi found his stride after being traded to the Boston Bruins. In just 21 regular-season games there, he put up 16 points. Then, during his brief playoff appearance against the Florida Panthers, he continued to score – 10 points in seven games.
His career progression has been impressive. His breakout season in 2021-22, when he scored 30 goals and added 32 assists (for 62 points) in 68 games. But, he’s never played an entire regular season with a high-octane offense like the Maple Leafs. Can he really have a breakout season when he’s surrounded by other great players?
What Bertuzzi Brings Three: He Might Be the Missing Piece
What makes Bertuzzi particularly intriguing and valuable to the Maple Leafs is the fact that they have lacked a player with his combination of offensive ability and physical presence for a long time. While players like Darcy Tucker and Zach Hyman brought their unique qualities to the team, Bertuzzi’s style of play sets him apart.
In fact, Bertuzzi’s advanced analytics, such as Corsi, show that he can have an overall positive impact on the game. He scores goals, creates havoc for opponents, and contributes in many positive ways. Bertuzzi fills a void that has needed to be filled for several seasons.
What Bertuzzi Brings Four: Can He Deliver a Postseason Impact?
As the Maple Leafs aim for postseason success, Bertuzzi’s style of play will undoubtedly prove valuable. He seems able to thrive in the really intense matchups. His recent performance with the Bruins, scoring five goals and adding five assists in just seven playoff games, shows that he can elevate his game in high-pressure situations. This combination of offensive production and physicality makes him a key asset for the team’s postseason aspirations.
The Bottom Line
Although the $5.5 million price tag might seem steep for a one-year contract, the Maple Leafs are getting a complete player in Bertuzzi. He brings a unique blend of offensive skill, physicality, and a desire to agitate opponents. These provide a different dimension to the team’s forward group.
As the team enters the new season, I have to believe Maple Leafs’ fans can be excited about the impact Bertuzzi’s presence might have on the ice. How far can his positive contributions push the Maple Leafs’ success?