Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

By: Joe Travia | Follow me on Twitter @NHLJoeTravia

Fresh off signing his extension with the Bruins and hiring Jim Montgomery as the team’s next head coach, it is time for Don Sweeney to get to work. While we have already highlighted players like RFA Miles Wood and UFA Nazem Kadri, the Bruins’ complicated salary cap situation may force them to depend on the trade market to bring in reinforcements. With Patrice Bergeron likely returning and David Krejci still a possibility, the bruins will need to shed salary to make further acquisitions. While there are certainly some avenues to creating more space, as things currently stand, Sweeney and the Bruins have a paltry $2.383 million of salary-cap space to work with.

Per The Fourth Period’s Summer Trade Watch, the Bruins have been linked to Detroit Red Wings Left Winger Tyler Bertuzzi. The 27-year-old is coming off a career-best campaign in Detroit, totaling 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points. A crafty puck handler with a good shot and a nose for the net, Bertuzzi would check a lot of boxes offensively for the Bruins. The lack of secondary scoring has been a constant factor in the Bruins’ early playoff exits the past few seasons. A well-rounded offensive talent like Bertuzzi would go a long way towards helping fix that issue.

Like Miles Wood, Bertuzzi would also inject grit and toughness into a Bruins lineup that has lacked those qualities in recent years. Though not the pugilist his Uncle Todd was, Bertuzzi has shown a willingness to mix it up and has no fear of dropping the gloves. He likes to play in the dirty areas. He is chippy without being highly penalized. While the NHL game is far past the point of needing enforcers on the roster, a particular element of “functional toughness” is necessary for teams that wish to be successful. A common criticism about the Bruins in recent years is that their roster has become too easy to play against. Much like Wood and Kadri, a guy like Bertuzzi would go a long way in helping shed that label.

On the flip side, there are a few reasons to wonder if acquiring Bertuzzi would be in the team’s best interest next season and the future. For starters, Bertuzzi has played most of his minutes in the NHL on the left-wing. On a team that already has Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall locked into multi-year deals, the Bruins would need to feel comfortable with Bertuzzi being able to transition to the right side. Secondly, while Bertuzzi is under contract for one more season at $4.75 million, he will be UFA next summer and will likely want a raise. With the Bruins possibly entering a transitionary phase following next season, will they want to commit money and term to a player that will be 28 years old?

Finally, the elephant in the room: Bertuzzi’s vaccination status. While things may have changed since then (highly unlikely), Bertuzzi was the only player in the entire NHL who was unvaccinated against COVID-19. Due to Canada requiring vaccination for all visitors, Bertuzzi would be ineligible to play road games against Canadian teams. As a team in a division with three Canadian teams, would it be wise to rely on someone ineligible to play road games there? The possibility of a first-round matchup with Toronto exists every year. Can you take the chance of depending on a player who would not be eligible to play in away games in a playoff series?

On my Twitter (@NHLJoeTravia), I ran a poll floating the idea of building a trade proposal around Jake DeBrusk for Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi’s vaccination status and the fact he will need a new contract next summer make it a complex trade to build. Would adding another young player like Trent Frederic, or another player who fits Detroit’s timeline, entice them enough to move Bertuzzi? Could the Bruins attach a contract like Mike Reilly and a pick sweetener? You would be upgrading from DeBrusk to Bertuzzi while clearing over $2 million in salary-cap space. The reaction was split, with some saying that was an overpay and others saying The Bruins should do it without hesitation. I am undecided where I stand. I believe that Bertuzzi is a significant upgrade over DeBrusk. If you can also clear additional cap space by moving a Mike Reilly in the deal, you have to consider it seriously. However, the Bruins’ cap situation and lack of assets probably mean that any trade for Bertuzzi will fall along the lines of an “overpay.” Ultimately, this is not a deal I could envision Don Sweeney pursuing unless Bertuzzi was vaccinated and showed interest in committing to a team-friendly extension. What do you think? Vote in the poll and sound off in my replies.