Tyler Bertuzzi’s deal part of Red Wings’ promising offseason, flexible future

Tyler Bertuzzi's deal part of Red Wings' promising offseason, flexible future
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Following salary arbitration, Tyler Bertuzzi sticks with the Detroit Red Wings for one year at $3.5 million. By itself, the Red Wings’ situation with Bertuzzi is already worth exploring. Beyond that, having Bertuzzi under wraps for one year also opens the door to discuss the Red Wings’ wide-open future.

Right up front, this is a perfectly reasonable deal for the Red Wings. The most interesting questions, for Bertuzzi and the Red Wings at large, revolve around: “What’s next?”

Tyler Bertuzzi covered for 2020-21 with Red Wings: one year, $3.5M

While both the players and teams are in different places with different expectations, the Red Wings’ one-year deal with Tyler Bertuzzi reminds me of the Sabres’ situation with Sam Reinhart.

Overall, it behooves the Red Wings to learn more about how much Bertuzzi can drive the bus himself.

During the past two seasons, Bertuzzi, 25, produced nearly identical results (21 goals each year, 47 points in 2018-19 and 48 last season). That’s pretty good stuff, especially since Bertuzzi did so in 73 and 71 games respectively.

On the other hand, much like Reinhart being boosted by Jack Eichel, Bertuzzi benefits from quality linemates. Since 2018-19, Bertuzzi spent the vast majority of his ice time with Dylan Larkin. Behind Larkin, Anthony Mantha ranked as Bertuzzi’s second most frequent forward linemate. On what’s been a woeful Red Wings team, it doesn’t get better than Larkin and Mantha.

Overall, Bertuzzi can be an offensive asset, but it’s unclear how much his defense drags everything down.

Then again, it’s easier to accept some warts from a younger player who might not break the bank. Would it have been better if the Red Wings could have bought more years from Bertuzzi while not bumping that $3.5M too much higher? Possibly.

That said, it’s likely wisest to find out how crucial Todd’s nephew truly is to the Red Wings.

Red Wings’ future remains wide open

In the short term, the Red Wings still have work to do. Most importantly, RFA Anthony Mantha needs a new contract.

(Now, that might be a player you want to sign long-term. Especially if it’s for a team-friendly cap hit.)

The Red Wings may also want to extend Filip Hronek, as the defenseman is about to enter a contract year. Also, the Red Wings can try to find similar deals to absorbing Marc Staal‘s contract in exchange for a draft pick. This is something I touted for Detroit before 2019-20, and it remains true now.

But looking beyond 2020-21, it’s remarkable just how much flexibility the Red Wings enjoy.

As much as Ken Holland bogged the Red Wings down with lousy term for depth players, most of those mistakes are washing away. If they haven’t already been dealt with, such as the Justin Abdelkader buyout.

From Staal’s $5.7M to Darren Helm‘s $3.85M, and even Henrik Zetterberg‘s $6.083M, the Red Wings see a bunch of money and/or cap space free up after 2020-21.

(Speaking of ghosts of Ken Holland’s past, the last $1.67M installment of the Stephen Weiss buyout finally ends after next season, too.)

With that money clearing, the Red Wings can be aggressive. Maybe that means adding a splashy free agent to accelerate the rebuild. Perhaps Yzerman can swing some nice trades. Even further, the Red Wings could steal some of the Seattle Kraken’s thunder heading into the 2021 Expansion Draft.

Progress with prospects, but not prosperity just yet

While the Red Wings made some progress with their rebuild, they need to add more and more.

On the bright side, experts seemed pretty keen on their 2020 NHL Draft. After stunning observers by selecting Moritz Seider sixth overall in 2019, the Red Wings colored inside the lines by selecting Lucas Raymond fourth this time around. If Raymond meets or exceeds expectations, that could be huge for Detroit.

Raymond ranked as the 17th-best player under 23 via Corey Pronman of The Athletic (sub required), and played a role in Pronman boosting the Red Wings’ prospect pool ranking from 18th to 13th.

Beyond Raymond and Seider, there’s also Filip Zadina and others who might make it, including Joe Veleno.

Still, after missing the playoffs for four straight seasons (and failing to win a playoff series since 2012-13), Red Wings fans might want to see more progress.

That’s where the near future comes in. Can Yzerman continue to add volume, and maybe also gain more blue-chippers? Detroit’s drafted a lot of players lately, including selecting nine second-rounders and six third-rounders over the last three years. Gaining more premium picks may be key, though. (They’ve drafted four instead of the customary three first-rounders during that same three-year period, but Joe Veleno wasn’t far from Round 2 at pick 30 in 2018.)

Much of the Red Wings’ future revolves around developing the Zadinas and Raymonds. Quite a bit also hinges on exploiting opportunities in free agency and trades. Being that Thomas Greiss is 34 and Jonathan Bernier is 32, Detroit should also be alert when it comes to targeting goalies.

Like Bertuzzi entering his contract year, the Red Wings’ most important work lies ahead. They’ve been hit-or-miss in ways that parallel Bertuzzi’s mix of strong offense and shaky defense, too.

We’ll see how both Bertuzzi and the Red Wings progress as 2020-21 goes on.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.