Opinion: Boeser is Wrong for Penguins, Bertuzzi Could be Right
Tyler Bertuzzi is again on the NHL trade block, even as reports indicate the Pittsburgh Penguins have an eye for Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser. Or maybe J.T. Miller. Or maybe defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
As a Penguins trade proposition, Boeser is the wrong fit. A softer righty with some defensive deficiencies who makes shy of $7 million for the next two years would create further cap problems for the Penguins in the near future, as well as take away the speed and grit on both sides of Evgeni Malkin.
It isn’t a coincidence Malkin is having a strong season beside wingers Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust, utilizing their speed, puck retrieval skills, and straightforward games.
And we’ve seen how maddening Malkin can be with “skill” beside him instead of the north-south game. However, you may enjoy watching coach Mike Sullivan glare in that unique combo of rage and disbelief.
Boeser is a very good player, but from this angle, not the right fit for the Penguins.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman is again picking up the phone when teams call about Bertuzzi, a high-scoring, agitating left wing.
After the Red Wings won seven of eight games and charged into playoff contention, the belief was Yzerman pulled back, but after a few losses, the Yzerplan to keep building no longer is on pause.
Bertuzzi, 28, will be a UFA on July 1. His current contract pays $4.75 million per season, and he’s expected to get a significant raise moving forward.
According to Dreger, the expected price is a first-round pick, plus.
A refresher for the trade market? Big week for the Red Wings. With how Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay have loaded up, Detroit is again listening to interest in Bertuzzi. Ask is a 1st plus. https://t.co/vvXyYOjQEz
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 28, 2023
Should the Penguins Make a Play?
First, if the Penguins are considering Boeser, as respected reports indicated, they are headed down the rabbit hole. A soft RW with sketchy skills in his own zone, who makes nearly $7 million, might be a less costly trade, but it wouldn’t be as effective as the right player.
Tyler Bertuzzi would be the right player under one condition.
For it to make sense, the Penguins must be permitted to speak with him about an extension and feel they can sign him to an extension.
A Penguins’ trade for Bertuzzi would empty their trade wallet. If they coughed up their first-rounder and a prospect or position player deemed desirable by Yzerman, it would essentially end the Penguins’ trade hopes for a legit 3C or top-four defenseman … unless GM Ron Hextall would sell off some assets, too.
However, given only 2.5 days until the NHL trade deadline, it’s probably too late to undergo a massive philosophical shift and start selling to facilitate buying.
Bertuzzi has been dealing with a hand injury all season. He has only three goals and 10 assists in 27 games. Last season, he notched 30 goals and 62 points in 68 games.
Of course, if Bertuzzi is eager to test the UFA market, no sale.
But if Detroit is willing to let the Penguins have the contract conversation before making a trade, and the Penguins feel they can get something done, then it’s an emphatic yes.
Bertuzzi is a left winger who could slot anywhere in the Penguins’ top nine, giving coach Mike Sullivan optimal flexibility. Bertuzzi and Jason Zucker could both fill third-line or second-line roles, giving the Penguins a remarkably deep lineup, as they’d hoped they had with Kasperi Kapanen.
For the rest of this season, having the grit with both Zucker and Bertuzzi would give the Penguins three-deep offensive production on the left side, speed, and more grit than they’ve had in a long time.
If Hextall is serious about improving the team beyond this season, Bertuzzi checks many boxes for the Penguins AND provides some insurance should they not re-sign Zucker.
If Zucker moves on, Bertuzzi would be just fine beside Malkin. Or Sidney Crosby.
However, if Detroit doesn’t permit the Penguins to speak with Bertuzzi, then no dice. A rental isn’t worth the first-rounder and more.
Using Hextall’s parameters, a first and something else is the definition of giving up big assets for a rental, which he vowed not to do.
The second wild card will most likely face the Boston Bruins. A little excitement in the lineup could go a long way. Bertuzzi brings that and could be around for a long time.
Under those conditions, yes, Bertuzzi fits.