Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tyler Bertuzzi Autographed Card

The Detroit Red Wings drafted Tyler Bertuzzi in the second round (58th overall) in 2013, and he was already saying things they wanted to hear, such as he's "meaner than his uncle", Todd Bertuzzi. High expectations indeed, because as much as the hockey world would rather forget Todd's high points to instead focus on his hit on Steve Moore, he was the toughest, meanest player and best power forward in the NHL for years; as a matter of fact, when it comes to adding the word "dominating" to a player's resume, Bertuzzi's West Coast Express (with Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison) ruled atop the NHL for as long as Eric Lindros' Legion Of Doom, though Lindros had very good seasons (read: point-per-game or near) without his linemates, which Bertuzzi did not, due to the fact that he was never the same following the hit, likely afraid to cost someone else their career because of a bad hit or if his temper flared during an on-ice altercation.

Comparisons between the two relatives are inevitable and unfair, yet warranted, because Todd played and dominated in the Dead Puck Era; he and Naslund had the size and fearlessness that allowed them to fire back at defenders who attempted to slow them down, and were among the rare few who thrived in that context; still, it being "Dead", his two best seasons were where he posted 46 goals (third in the NHL - and 97 points for fifth in the league - in 2002-03) and 36 goals (for 85 points, third in the NHL, in 2001-02). The rest of the time, he was a 25-goal scorer, which was still very good in that era because that's what top-line players did.

Nowadays, scoring is also an issue, with only one player (Connor McDavid) having reached the 100-point plateau this year, and none scoring 50 goals. Most players are defensively aware, and although there may be a slight discrepancy between the top of the elite class ("superstars") and "regular" stars, the systems at play are so sophisticated that teams' entire top-six are usually within the same range of point production.

In that context, a fearless, relentless 6'1'', 200-pound physical winger with decent hands can, indeed, expect those kind of minutes in his prime (ages 25-33), so I could see him get his 25-30 goals five or six times in that span, for sure. I think his peak/maximum upside would be something similar to a 2008-12 Alexandre Burrows, a top-line agitator who draws penalties, takes a few, and scores important goals.

For now, at 22 years old, he needs to add those ten missing pounds - he's currently at 190 - and continue developing. He went from a 43-goal season with the OHL's Guelph Storm in 2014-15 to 12 goals in 71 AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins the following year in his first pro season. He got up to 12 goals in 48 AHL games last year, while going pointless in 7 games with the parent Wings.

My plan if I were GM would be to have him aim for a 30-35 goal season in the AHL next year, then a 15-goal rookie season in the NHL, then a step up to 25 in 2019-20; Detroit, however, is in a rebuild, and they might look to speed things up by having him spend most of next year in the NHL to get that first year out of the way. We'll see. He currently has 12 points in 12 playoff games with the Griffins this year, his second-straight point-per-game postseason, so that probably has the Wings salivating.

Here he is wearing the Storm's white uniform, on card #9 from In The Game's 2013-14 Heroes And Prospects set:
He signed it in black sharpie last November, after a game against my hometown Montréal Canadiens.

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