The Toronto Maple Leafs new general manager, Brad Treliving, found a way to sign Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year deal this past summer. It was thought by many that Bertuzzi would be the replacement for Michael Bunting.
Toronto Maple Leafs fans started showing some concern when Bertuzzi got off to a slow start.
After ten games, Bertuzzi had two goals and one assist, despite putting up excellent advanced stats.
Due to the slow start, Bertuzzi was briefly demoted to try to jumpstart his game, but it didn’t last long.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Tyler Bertuzzi Playing as Advertised
Once his brief stint on the fourth line was over, Keefe put Bertuzzi on the left wing on the Leafs second line with John Tavares and William Nylander.
Since then, the puck has finally started to go in for Bertuzzi. In his last five games, Bertuzzi has two goals and three assists for five points. He now has four goals and four assists for eight points in 17 games. (Stats from hockey-reference.com)
Bertuzzi’s slow start is not a surprise to those who have followed his career. The pesky forward typically starts slow and doesn’t get going until the 15 – 20 game mark. The Bertuzzi we’re seeing right now is what we should expect for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. More importantly, the playoffs are where Bertuzzi really shines.
I think Bertuzzi is a great compliment to the Tavares and Nylander line. He wins puck battles and creates space for the other two. He’s doing the little things right, and he’s starting to get rewarded. Bertuzzi is known to hang around in front of the other team’s net. We saw evidence of this with his goal against the Detroit Red Wings in Sweden. He was right in front of the net with his stick on the ice and directed a perfect pass from Nylander into the net.
It’s hard to imagine Bertuzzi not getting points regularly while playing with Nylander and Tavares. Both are playing great, and Nylander is on a 17-game point streak to start the season. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for Bertuzzi to finish the season with 20 goals and 45 points if he stays on the Leafs second line.
As I mentioned earlier, Bertuzzi shines in the playoffs, so I’m not too worried about his regular season point totals as long as he shows up when we need him the most. If Bertuzzi helps the Leafs go on a long playoff run, then his signing will be completely justified.