Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Tyler Bertuzzi

Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In our latest post identifying players that could be potential acquisition targets for the Washington Capitals this off-season, we’re going to take a look at pending unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Bertuzzi. With the Capitals and General Manager Brian MacLellan looking to upgrade the top-six forwards this off-season, Bertuzzi would lpotentially be a solid fit in the skilled forward group.

The statistics and salary cap information used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, CapFriendly, Dobber Sports, HockeyViz, and Evolving Hockey. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.

Needs Addressed

Bertuzzi has primarily been a left wing during his career, and has been a top-six forward for the Detroit Red Wings, typically playing alongside Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond. Bertuzzi slotted in mostly on the third line for the absolutely stacked Bruins’ forward group, skating the majority of his minutes with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic.

If the Caps stick with Evgeny Kuznetsov this season, the two positions on the left and right wing on the second line are seemingly absent of proven top-six contributors. Conceivably, Bertuzzi could fit on the second line left wing.


Bertuzzi is a 28-year-old left wing and a former second-round pick (58th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 50 games played this past season, he scored eight goals and 22 assists for 30 points. Although the point totals seem a bit low, Bertuzzi scored five goals and five assists for 10 points in 7 games in the first round series loss to the Florida Panthers. In his career, he’s posted 92 goals and 126 assists for 218 points in 326 games played.

Bertuzzi was traded to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline for a 2024 first round pick (top ten protected) and a 2025 fourth round pick. Bertuzzi’s contract that expired at the end of this season was a two-year deal with a $4.75M cap hit.

Five-on-five on-ice performance

Here’s Bertuzzi’s performance in possession metrics during five-on-five play this past season. I broke out his performance with the Detroit versus his time with the Bruins this past season.

When looking at the possession numbers, specifically around his shot attempts, we see a player that is rather solid in puck possession performance. Even on a rebuilding Detroit squad, his Corsi For percentage (CF%), Fenwick For percentage (FF%), and shots for percentage (SF%) above the 50% threshold. This is a solid sign that Bertuzzi actually does well in controlling possession regardless of the quality of the team around him.

We see a huge discrepancy between Bertuzzi’s goals for percentage (GF%) between his time in Detroit and his time in Boston. There are a couple explanations for this:

  • the Red Wings allowed the ninth most goals against during five-on-five play; and the Bruins were immensely successful in generating goals that far surpassed their expected goals for (xGF) metric.
  • Additionally, he went from an on-ice save percentage of .878 in Detroit to the elite tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, who posted an on-ice save percentage of .924 when Bertuzzi was on the ice.

Bertuzzi’s xGF% in Derroit appears to be buoyed by his possession performance, meaning it was more of a quantity over quality situation in terms generating shot attempts, but not necessarily quality scoring chances. That’s quite the opposite of what drove his xGF% in Boston, as we’ll see here:

As explained above, Bertuzzi wasn’t on the ice for a high percentage of scoring chances or high-danger scoring chances in the Red Wings favor. That’s potentially why his xGF% with the Red Wings was a bit inflated up to that 50.26 xGF%.

On the other hand, in Boston (with a much better roster around him), he thrived and was on the ice for the majority of scoring chances for (SCF%) and high-danger chances for (HDCF%).

To me, this says that Bertuzzi will give you effective puck possession performance out of the box (so to say), but he needs some talent around him to drive the quality scoring chances. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but this means that he’s probably not the one driving and generating quality scoring chances.

Here’s Bertuzzi’s isolated impact chart, which measures Bertuzzi’s actual impact on the performance of his teams when he’s on the ice versus on the bench:

That 11% increase in expected goals for per sixty (xGF/60) is really driven from his time in Boston, where he had both solid possession numbers and scoring chance generation output. That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, especially since his xGF% was rather solid with the Red Wings.

Bertuzzi is also rather decent defensively, which adds a bit of context to his possession performance. His presence on the ice results in -1% fewer expected goals against per sixty (xGA/60). That’s not a substantial impact, but it’s far better than being a complete liability in the defensive zone.

It’s interesting that Bertuzzi has negative impact on the power play, considering half of his eight goals this past season came on the power play. 10 of his 30 points came on the power play in general. Part of this could be due to limited ice time on the power play, only getting 87:40 of time in Detroit and 54:10 in Boston.

Rate Adjusted Plus-Minus

Rate-Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) is an efficient way to measure a player’s performance in relation to the league, and in relation to replacement level. Here’s Bertuzzi’s RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey:

You can see a trend here with Bertuzzi. He’s really effective in generating shot attempts, but is pretty much an average defender in terms of limiting Corsi shot attempts against. He’s also effective in generating xGF/60, but you see a rather mirrored xGA/60.

I mentioned that although Bertuzzi scored half of his goal and a third of his total points on the power play, which really drives his goals for per sixty (GF/60) up. It’s pretty simple: more goals in less ice time means you have an effective GF/60 measure.

Roster fit

Bertuzzi would be an intriguing add to the second line left wing position, considering he can drive possession play. The downside is, he’s not necessarily creating those high-quality chances on his own, and needs a “driver” on his line. If the Caps keep Kuznetsov around and he regains his 2021-22 form, those two could have a good working relationship.

The relatively good news is that Bertuzzi doesn’t cost anything but a new contract to acquire, which means you could save your assets to bring in another top-six forward to skate on the right side of the second line. The relatively bad news is, Evolving Hockey has Bertuzzi’s next contract to be a four year deal that carries a $5.528M cap hit. To be able to afford that contract and another top six forward for the right side of the second line, significant salary would have to be moved out.

Does this make sense for the Caps?

The more I think about the construction of the roster for the Capitals, improving the forwards comes down to one main question: would it be better to go out and acquire one elite top-six forward or get two good top six forwards? Two forwards, to me, seems like a tall task unless you’re bringing in a center on a cheaper contract to replace Kuznetsov, and even then, what does Kuznetsov get you in terms of a return? Is it good asset management to sell a player at their lowest value, especially one that can absolutely be elite if he wanted to?

I think Bertuzzi is firmly in the “good” category in terms of a potential fit for the Capitals, but left wing is a position with interesting depth. Not only do you have Alex Ovechkin and Sonny Milano, but you could potentially have Connor McMichael ready for a full-time NHL role. Would it be crazy to think that either Milano or McMichael could play or interchange on the second and third left wing slots, and the Caps go after a big fish to play the right wing on the second line?

By Justin Trudel


Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Vladislav Gavrikov
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Michael Bunting
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Nick Schmaltz
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Brock Boeser
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Ryan Graves
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Viktor Arvidsson 
Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Elias Lindholm

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Tyler Bertuzzi

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bertuzzi might be best option out there. Not a great year to enhance forward Corp, at least via free agency.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    Bertuzi Wilson Beck M Ovechkin would be a lot of Beef. Beef is good!!!

  4. hockeydruid says:

    First how much will he cost and for how many years? Second are we getting the Tyler of this year or the Tyler of 212/22? It worries me when you see that the high number of games he has played in a years is 73, 71 and 68 and with an older team that lost over 400 man-games last year this does not bode well. Maybe for a 2 or 3 year deal totaling 4(mil, 1st year 2, then 3 and finally 4. Or maybe just a 2 year deal for total of $5 mil. O better yet look at number of mossed games and just quietly walk away.

  5. andrew777dc says:

    We have a Mantha for that. Why bother then? Perhaps he’s better at finishing with good partners, as shown in Boston. Were the ones in Detroit any worse? Given who he’d been playing with there. So, too much risk for a still hefty price tag, no?

  6. redLitYogi says:

    Pass. Not worth the opportunity cost nor the money. He’s a good player but not for our situation unless we want to be just good enough to get the 15th draft pick next year instead of the 8th.

  7. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m a long time red wings fan and Bertuzzi is NOT a top six forward. He was in Detroit only because they were so weak at forwards. He wants more than top six money. He turned down a very good Detroit (and Boston) offer because his ego and agent want more. He is a very good third line option if he stays healthy.

Leave a Reply