After graduating from the Grand Rapids Griffins up to the Detroit Red Wings, Tyler Bertuzzi cemented himself as a fan favorite. More importantly, though, the kid can play. The 2017 AHL playoff MVP showed once again he was to good for the farm club, scoring fourteen points in sixteen games. As the season progressed, the injury bug hit, giving Bert the opportunity to showcase his talents on the big stage and he didn’t disappoint.
Unfortunately, due to Bertuzzi’s delayed entry into the lineup, he does not have a PET chart to evaluate his performance. But just looking at some basic metrics, since December 9th (Bertuzzi’s season debut) he ranks fourth on the team in points, despite playing 100-200 minutes less at 5-on-5 than the three players ahead of him. This ranks him second on the team in points-per-60. The majority of his playing time came with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist which helped his play out tremendously, as seen from the chart below:
So his play was heavily influenced by playing with the Swedish duo. However, that shouldn’t take away from his great play. He showed he was able to pounce on loose pucks and create scoring chances on a frequent basis. Which is the most likely reason for his struggles away from the top-line, as the rest of the lineup for the most part were unable to consistently get the puck to the net, failing to give Bert the chance to do what he does best.
That can be a problem, as the chart above shows Bertuzzi’s primary shot locations came from around the net. At the end of the day, he isn’t driving the offense – he’s a very good complementary player. All we could ever ask for is for him to play his game, and he does a damn good job at it.
The ongoing theme here is apparently small sample sizes! Bertuzzi played in seven games during the 2016-17 season (it doesn’t show up in the above stats sheet), where he recorded no points. Again, small sample size, but it gives you an idea of just how much he has grown as a player.
This past season being his rookie year, he put up half a point-per-game which isn’t bad at all. He got some time as the net-front on the powerplay (although limited) and it didn’t go well on the stat sheet. But as mentioned before, that could be attested to the Red Wings powerplay being awful at getting shots to the net – the team as a whole ranked second last in the league in shots-for at 5-on-4. That certainly played a role in Bertuzzi’s lack of impact as the net-front-presence.
The stat nerds won’t be pleased with Bertuzzi. His corsi rating comes in at a whopping 46.79%. In other words, not good. Relatively, his -2.08 sucks too. I’m very blunt and uncreative with this since we already know he doesn’t drive play. However, that is just fine in his case. His role or expectations aren’t to break open the game. Its to get into the hard areas and open up ice for the skill guys, and chip in offensively when the chance presents itself.
Bertuzzi is a mixed bag on this one. He ranks third on the team in GF/60 (at least 100 minutes played), but ranks third last in GA/60. He still isn’t the most reliable player yet, and defensively still has work to do. However, he is still more refined in that area than other players his age.
Entering his first full season next year, there will certainly be some hiccups along the way. He’ll definitely find his way into Jeff Blashill’s dog house, that’s just how it works. He still has areas he could improve upon, such as the aforementioned defensive play. As well as finishing. He is great at finding glorious chances in front of the net, but couldn’t find the back of the net on multiple occasions – some being wide-open nets.
He benefited greatly from playing with Zetterberg, and the captain is only getting older. So the potential of a sophomore slump is definitely a possibility. My advice to Blashill would be to shelter him early on with someone like Andreas Athanasiou to create some scoring chances. From there just let things play out. I would be very careful with his development.
It was a good year for lil’ Bert. He took big steps forward in establishing himself as an NHL player. With that said, we know what he is now. He is a complementary player who gets the job done. However, it is still early in his NHL career and his development is far from over. In a few years, I think this kid could be a mainstay in Detroit.
They grow up so fast!