Tyler Bertuzzi hops over the boards for a line change during practice
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs head coach provides a blunt assessment of Tyler Bertuzzi's time in Toronto

Published January 18, 2024 at 2:03 PM
BY DEAN CHAUDHRY

It always seemed that Tyler Bertuzzi was being linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs at every trade deadline, during every draft, and in every off-season. The organization finally got their hands on the gritty forward this summer but it hasn't worked out as they had hoped. He has had some great stretches but those stretches have been sandwiched in between inconsistencies and poor play.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe was rather blunt when he was asked to assess Bertuzzi's game ahead of their eventual 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Here's what Keefe had to say about the veteran winger:

"I would say inconsistent. For me, it has taken a while to get going in each game that we have played of late. When the game gets going, he is in it and he is competitive. At times, the game gets away from him a little bit early."

However, Keefe finished off the statement by saying that although he's been inconsistent, Bertuzzi has played some "good hockey" as of late and he remains a very important player for the future success of the Maple Leafs:


"To me, Bert has played good hockey for us for a good stretch of time now. It seems that the harder, more competitive, and more important the game is, the better we get from him. I thought the game against Colorado was a bit of an exception there, but he has played very well for us. He is an important guy."

The Maple Leafs are struggling in nearly all facets of their game right now and things won't get any easier with their upcoming schedule featuring west coast clubs who are white hot at the moment. Bertuzzi's overall game has been getting better in recent weeks but the points have dried up.

Outside of a stretch where he accumulated 4 assists in 3 games, he has just 6 points in the other 21 games dating back to the 28th of November. He has scored just one goal during that stretch and is currently mired in a 10-game goal drought.

Earlier in the week, Keefe mentioned how he was going to be moving Bertuzzi around the lineup for the foreseeable future to see where he fits best. He said he wasn't sure if the Matthews experiment didn't work out in the early parts of the season because of a mismatch in style or because he was acclimating to his new surroundings.

Whatever the case may be, at least he has improved of late but the goal is for Bertuzzi to play a consistent style of hockey, akin to his final days in Detroit where he scored 77 goals and 164 points in 221 games between 2018-19 and 2021-22 or his playoff run with the Bruins last season when he posted 5 goals and 10 points in 7 games.

POLL
January 18   |   1079 answers
Leafs head coach provides a blunt assessment of Tyler Bertuzzi's time in Toronto

Should the Leafs move Tyler Bertuzzi for picks/prospects before the deadline if they're in a Wild Card spot?

Yes, sell if they're not going to push for a cup66861.9 %
No, re-sign him21219.6 %
Play it out with him and let him walk as a UFA19918.4 %
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