Tyler Bertuzzi was awarded a 1-year, $3.5 million contract today after taking the Red Wings to arbitration this past Sunday, and The Athletic’s Max Bultman posted a column discussing the implications of said contract going forward:
The short-term bottom line is that Bertuzzi, a clear top-six (and usually top-line) forward for Detroit, is under contract for a reasonable cap and salary number for 2020-21. Next offseason, he will again be a restricted free agent, and Detroit will retain his rights. However, he will at that point be only one year away from unrestricted free agency.
That’s what makes the deal a bit complicated in the long term. The Red Wings have kept all their contracts short since Yzerman arrived last spring. That’s mostly been a positive, as he’s signed veteran free agents to one- and two-year deals that won’t block any top prospects long term. Such an approach has preserved flexibility as Detroit’s next young wave matures, while adding veteran support and minimal locks on the cap sheet for when the team is ready to turn the corner.
As it stands, Dylan Larkin is the only Red Wings player with a contract past 2022. And his deal expires in 2023.
Yzerman recently said the team is “prepared to sign players to longer-term contracts,” but also said it wants to “move slowly for the time being, and be careful about handing out long-term deals.” But Bertuzzi, at 25 and as one of the Red Wings’ top players, certainly seems like the kind of player it would make sense to sign with at least some term. That can still happen in a year, of course, and maybe it will. At minimum, the league’s economic situation should have more clarity by then, and Bertuzzi will have another season on his résumé too.