Sportsnet’s Luke Fox examines the respective situations of his top 15 restricted free agents this morning, including Red Wings forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha:
9. Tyler Bertuzzi
Position: Left wing
2019-20 salary cap hit: $1.4 million
Arbitration rights: Yes — and filed
Bargaining chips: Made first All-Star Game appearance. Back-to-back 21-goal, 47-point seasons. Skates nearly 20 minutes a night. Organization has invested seven years developing him into a first-line threat.
The latest: One of the few bright spots on a sad-sack Red Wings, Bertuzzi has over-delivered on his two-year, $2.8-million bridge pact signed back in 2018 and deserves a nice pay bump.
Of the three pending RFA forwards GM Steve Yzerman still must make decisions on, Bertuzzi is the most essential. Yzerman has been busy rebuilding his roster through smart, low-risk UFA signings, while clearing out veterans through buyout (Justin Abdelkader) or simply letting them walk (Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson).
Bertuzzi has 30-goal potential, brings grit to his game, and should be seen as a building block for a rebuild that needs as many as it can get.
Negotiations with Yzerman have begun as the sides try to work out a deal prior to arbitration Oct. 25.
Continued; Fox notes that Mantha has suggested that contract talks with the Wings won’t be easy, but we do know per Steve Yzerman’s conference calls that the talks with Mantha are a little further along than Bertuzzi’s negotiations.