Signs point to Todd Bertuzzi staying in Detroit

Thumbnail image for bertuzzi.jpgThere’s no doubt that I delight in lampooning Todd Bertuzzi. Obviously, there’s our once-weekly Bertuzzday award (we’ll probably start that again next season, in some form): a token of shame given out because of the Steve Moore debacle. Even beyond that, Bertuzzi has been a goat in the eyes of many bloggers for pure hockey reasons, as he underwhelmed onlookers while bouncing from the Panthers to the Red Wings to the Ducks and Flames.

A strange thing happened on his way back to the Motor City, though. While no one would mistake him for the dominant force he was for a few impressive seasons with Markus Naslund in Vancouver, Bertuzzi started to resemble the player who once made an impact on the league. Watching him protect the puck and bring it into tough areas after years of witnessing him shy away from contact and earn the title of Largest Perimeter Player/Floater was, frankly, quite stunning.

Could it be that he was just trying to save his career? That’s not clear just yet, but it looks like the Detroit Red Wings want to bring Big Bert back. Here’s more from the Detroit Free Press.

The Wings have offered a two-year deal to unrestricted free-agent forward Todd Bertuzzi. They also have extended qualifying offers to all five of their restricted free agents: forwards Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm and defenseman Derek Meech. There have been some preliminary talks with the agents for Eaves and Miller. Eaves, Miller and Meech all have arbitration rights.

NOTEBOOK: Tomas Holmstrom officially signed his two-year deal Monday, putting the Wings at $52.245 million in salaries toward next season. The cap is expected to rise $2 million to $58.8 million, leaving roughly $6.5 million in cap space. Besides re-signing Bertuzzi and the five restricted agents, the Wings will use what is left toward a veteran defenseman — possibly Andreas Lilja — and seeing if there’s a gritty forward available via free agency.

(The story also details the fact that the team is very close to signing general manager Ken Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill to contract extensions.)

While I cannot help but wonder if we’ll see the floating Bertuzzi return soon enough, the Red Wings are justified in thinking that they can contend with last year’s group (plus the helpful addition of one year cast-off Jiri Hudler). The only issue is that Bertuzzi and the Red Wings aren’t exactly spring chickens, either. Then again, I guess that’s another discussion for another day.

We’ll let you know once/if a deal is signed. From the sounds of things, though, it looks like Bertuzzi will remain in Detroit.

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    With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

    Garett Sparks
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    You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

    With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

    Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

    Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

    In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

    Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

    Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

    Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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    So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

    The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

    No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

    He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

    Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

    Carey Price
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    There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

    ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

    So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

    Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

    (But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

    Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

    After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

    Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

    Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

    As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

    The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

    Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

    They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

    The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

    Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.