( Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports )

Tommy Bennett | Follow Me On Twitter @TJBennettt37

It is a summer of critical decisions. While Don Sweeney awaits the decisions on Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, there is still work to be done. The money is limited, and there are crucial contracts. Not only internally, but every deadline acquisition is a pending free agent.

In a salary cap world, you cannot keep everybody. That is just how things go on the business side of things. The Boston Bruins have a list of key free agents. Most notable is goaltender Jeremy Swayman along with Trent Frederic. However, with the big splashes made at the trade deadline, one key player is an unrestricted free agent. That player is Tyler Bertuzzi.

Keeping Bertuzzi Is Important 

Without the Taylor Hall injury, Bertuzzi is most likely not a Bruin. After contract extension talks with Steve Yzerman failed, he was shipped to Boston. Injuries plagued Bertuzzi early in the year, but he finally got healthy near the deadline. While Detroit was on the outside looking in, Boston capitalized and added reinforcements. Bertuzzi was everything you could have asked for and more. However, with money being tight, keeping him in black and gold will be difficult. 

It is not impossible, but not unlikely. Bertuzzi is set to become a free agent. However, Elliote Friedman has reported that the Boston Bruins will do everything they can to keep him. Bertuzzi is not the biggest guy (6’1, 186), but he plays a physical game and forechecks hard. In his first few games, his playmaking ability was on full display. Bertuzzi was never afraid to go into the corners and dig out pucks. In the 21 games he played in the regular season, Bertuzzi went on to score four goals and have 16 points. 

Bertuzzi had great underlying metrics. With him on the ice, shot attempts were in the Bruins favor (395-277). In addition, his expected goals for (21.88) were noticeable with him on the ice. With him on the ice, generating chances from the high-danger area came in bunches (92). For the small sample size of games, his goal differential in the area (14-8) was a recipe for success. Bertuzzi played a hard-nosed game and was loved by Bruins fans. 

Playoff Bertuzzi Was Thriving

Even though the playoffs were short-lived, Tyler Bertuzzi enjoyed every moment. While some players struggled mightily in the series, Bertuzzi shined in the brightest moments. Getting his first taste of playoff action, Bertuzzi was the Bruin’s best player of the series. Bertuzzi led the team in points (10) and was tied for first in goals (5). Bertuzzi was a player that could be plugged into any situation.

During the seven-game series, Bertuzzi went on to record six points on the power play. In addition, Bertuzzi generated the second most expected goals (3.1). He was right behind David Pastrnak, who generated the most. Bertuzzi was a great playmaker with three primary assists to help set up crucial goals. He played physically, embraced the moment, and showed why he was worth acquiring at the deadline.

Why It Makes Sense

Tyler Bertuzzi is worth the contract extension. Bertuzzi loved his time in Boston, and those feelings were reciprocated back to him. Despite dealing with injuries (2020-21, 2021-22), Bertuzzi has played over 50 games every other season. Bertuzzi was a consistent 40+ point player but had a career year last season. Even with the injury sustained, Bertuzzi was nearly a point-per-game player for the Red Wings. 

However, of all Don Sweeney’s acquisitions, Bertuzzi is the golden ticket. As the team aims to get younger, Bertuzzi being 28 years old, fits the mold. With the futures of Bergeron and Krejci uncertain, a new wave of hockey will begin in Boston. He is due a significant raise north of the $4.75 million he was making. Even anything north of $5 million is a tall task for Sweeney. Trades will be made, and space will need to be created. There are options to be moved out; it just has to be explored.