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Detroit Red Wings

Bertuzzi Bet May Not Pay Off; Mantha Stays Hot



Tyler Bertuzzi

A comparison of the Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha scoring statistics this morning makes no sense if you have followed the careers of both former Red Wings.

Mantha has 17 goals in 50 games for the Washington Capitals. Bertuzzi has seven goals in 53 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. At the start of this season, Toronto fans were excited about Bertuzzi signing with the Maple Leafs. Fans believed he was going to be a difference-maker. At the start of this season, Washington fans viewed Mantha as an ongoing disappointment.

Six months later, Bertuzzi has one goal in his past 21 games, while Mantha has five goals and four points for nine points in his past 10 games.

Mantha started this season on the fourth line in Washington and is currently playing on Washington’s second line. The increase of Mantha’s offensive production has prompted speculation that the Capitals will be able to trade him to a playoff team before the March 8 trade deadline.

Best Season as Cap

With 17 goals, 28 points and a +6 plus-minus, Mantha is headed toward his best season since the Red Wings traded him to Washington in 2020-21.

Both Bertuzzi and Mantha will be unrestricted free agents this summer

The Bertuzzi struggles are more surprising than Mantha’s recent success. Bertuzzi had two 20-goal seasons, and one 20-goal seasons in Detroit. He was an impact player, even when he didn’t have the puck. His teammates loved his tenacity and pluckiness.  Bertuzzi was popular with his teammates.

After he was traded at the last trade deadline to Boston, Bruins quickly became a fan of his game. Bruins management liked how well he played in the postseason (Five goals, five assists, 10 points) and tried to re-sign him.

But the Ontario native opted to sign with the Maple Leafs. To fit into the Maple Leafs’ cap situation, he took a one-year deal for $5.5 million. The Bertuzzi storyline was his was betting on himself. If he played as well as everyone expected he would, Bertuzzi would be rewarded with a lucrative, long-term deal.

Salary Cut?

Unless he picks up the offensive pace or stars in the postseason, Bertuzzi may be losing the bet on himself.

He is on  pace for an 11-goal season. It doesn’t help that he is -7 in his past eight games. It’s not as if he isn’t playing with top players. He’s currently on a line with William Nylander, and he’s been with Auston Matthews or John Tavares at times

A Toronto insider said Bertuzzi has not been as feisty and aggressive as fans hoped he would be.

There’s still time for him to turn his season around. The Maple Leafs have 28 games remaining, and Bertuzzi’s game — at least the game he showed in Detroit — was made for the playoffs. If Bertuzzi has a strong playoff, all will be forgiven.

However, if he doesn’t turn up the volume on his offense, then the bet on himself will cost him. He probably will not be offered the same $5.5 million he earned this season.