On Day 2 of free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year contract. Several things pointed to his potential as a difference-maker for his new team. Perhaps the most impressive was his showing in his first career crack at the playoffs after he moved to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline.
This postseason performance showed the Maple Leafs’ leadership several key aspects of his game that made him an attractive signing. However, when the Maple Leafs’ organization looked at what Bertuzzi brings to the team, several things stood out.
Bertuzzi Has Strong Play-making Abilities
Although Bertuzzi is known to be a goal-scorer, what stood out in his playoff series was his playmaking. He showed he had an excellent sense of where his teammates were on the ice and then made quick, creative decisions to get them the puck for easy scoring chances.
Bertuzzi’s ability to find his teammates in dangerous positions should make him a valuable asset to this Maple Leafs’ team. There are a lot of finishers in the Maple Leafs’ lineup. Playing with elite talents like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner can only be helpful.
Bertuzzi Has Great Hand-Eye Coordination
Bertuzzi has a little bit of Tavares in him. Tavares has great hand-eye coordination; and, Bertuzzi shares that same quality. During the playoffs, he worked to tip and deflect pucks around the net. That makes him a strong offensive threat for his new team.
Bertuzzi has excelled in front of the net during power plays and in 5-on-5 situations. With this Maple Leafs, that makes him valuable. He’s liable to generate more scoring chances for this team than he has with the teams he played for in the past – the Detroit Red Wings and (perhaps) even the Boston Bruins.
Bertuzzi Plays with Tenacity
Bertuzzi played with a bit of an edge during the postseason. The Maple Leafs (and their fans) will appreciate that tenacious style of play. He’s willing to hit and get involved physically.
Bertuzzi’s high-energy style of play and his determination on the ice make him an exciting player to watch. Look for him to contribute positively to his new team’s success.
Bertuzzi Brings Versatility to His Game
Bertuzzi brings versatility to his game. He can play both a scoring role and an agitator role. Few players can do both. That kind of versatility – both in the regular season and the postseason – is rare.
Bertuzzi can produce offense and also get under opponents’ skin. He’s a bigger, more experienced Michael Bunting. Given this versatility, he brings a well-rounded skill set that the Maple Leafs will value.
Does Bertuzzi Have Weaknesses in His Game?
Bertuzzi has shown strengths in his playoff performance; however, there are also a few weaknesses in his game. He could use some added attention to his game in the defensive zone. At the same time, he’s susceptible to risky plays.
However, the Maple Leafs are positively impressed with what Bertuzzi brings to the roster. He’s a strong fit for their lineup, especially playing with talented partners like Matthews and Marner.
Bertuzzi’s impact in the playoffs made the Maple Leafs take notice. Now he just has to bring that same skill set and determination to his new team. Will his one-year contract turn into more? We’ll soon see.
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