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Making the case: Todd Bertuzzi

Recently Buddy Oakes of Preds on the Glass stated that the Nashville Predators wouldn’t sign any free agents unless they were $1 million/year or less.

We’ll here’s one that actually might be: public enemy number one in Denver, Colorado, Todd Bertuzzi.

Now an NHL journeyman, Bertuzzi played last season for the Calgary Flames, making $1.9 million. It would stand to reason that a team could bring him in for $1.5 (or maybe even less) considering his age, his decline in production over the past few seasons, his injury-prone nature as of late and, of course, the negative stigma that still follows him thanks to his actions against Steve Moore back on February 16, 2004.

The 6’3″, 235 pound right winger would make an immediate impact on the Preds’ 3rd line and would give them a physical presence that can score on occasion as well. He hasn’t scored less than 40 points in any one season since cracking an NHL roster full-time at the start of the 1999-00 season and has even managed to produce when not skating with guys named Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, or Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Of course, he also hasn’t played a full season since 2005-06 either. In his career he’s dealt with not only the suspension for the Moore-incident, but also a rash of injuries including a fractured tibia (98-99), back spasms (06-07) and a knee injury (08-09).

Short of captain Jason Arnott and rookie Colin Wilson (who might not even make the opening night roster), the Preds have a serious lack of size up front and bringing in Bertuzzi would help in that department. But is it worth it?

Being able to count on 40-45 points from a 3rd liner would be great but let’s take a look at it leaving stats behind. As mentioned earlier, “Big Bert” has a consistent history of injury. With Steve Sullivan just coming off a near two-year abscence from bank spasams, and with guys like Arnott, Martin Erat and David Legwand all known for regularly missing time during the season for minor injuries here and there, Bertuzzi would more than likely make the injury list at some point during the season as well. If you’re Predators General Manager David Poile, do you risk having all of those guys on the shelf at the same time? And what if that same time is February, March or April?

Also, he’s not the player he once was. Those 97, 85 and 71 point seasons are a thing of the past. So fans that are salavating at the sight of those numbers need to calm down a little and pay attention to what he’s done as of late. 11 points in the only 15 games he played in 06-07, 40 points in 68 games in 07-08 and then 44 points in 66 games last year. Now 40-45 points in 65 games would certainly be welcome but at what price? Are teams willing to pay more than Nashville is for those 45 points? While it’s more risk/reward with a heavy side of risk for the Preds, on a team like the Rangers or the Sharks, bringing Bertuzzi in would certainly be leaning towards reward. Those teams could afford a guy like Bertuzzi to play only half a season. Teams like Nashville, Atlanta or Los Angeles, on the other hand, could not.

Plus, let’s face it, Bertuzzi wants to win a Stanley Cup. Just look at the past three seasons. At the trade deadline in 2007, he was traded from Florida to Detroit because they were a favorite. Detroit lost in the Western Conference Finals to Anaheim, who went on to win their first Cup. So, a couple months later, he signed a deal with those same Ducks in hopes of them repeating as Champions. But alas, Bertuzzi watched from home as his former Wings teammates hoisted what should’ve been his Stanley Cup. He then went on to Calgary because they were considered a contender for Lord Stanley last season. But, just as the season before, Bertuzzi’s team was ousted in the opening round, only to see somone else celebrate come June.

So, needless to say, he’s looking to go to a contender. Nashville probably isn’t on his radar.

But, all that being said, if Bertuzzi was willing to come to Nashville – and for $1.5 or less – one would think Poile would have to pull the trigger. Let’s be honest, a guy sitting in the press box injured making $1.5 million, who’s on the score sheet every other game he plays in, is worth the risk. A guy making any more than that, however, is a waste of money, cap space and a roster spot.


This is the fifth in a series that will be doing on the available UFA’s.

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