Tyler Bertuzzi’s AHL Production Shouldn’t Come as a Surprise


As Dylan Larkin continues to impress all for those watching the AHL playoffs this year it is a good time to remind all not to forget about another Detroit Red Wings pick, Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi was taken in the 2nd round of the 2013 NHL Draft. He spent his entire 4 year OHL career with the Guelph Storm and now is playing with the Red Wings’ AHL club, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

When Bertuzzi was drafted he came in overshadowed by his uncle, Todd Bertuzzi who spent many years in the NHL and with the Detroit Red Wings. Todd is known for his mentality to be trouble maker on the ice and his nephew is well aware of that. In fact, Tyler embraces the style his uncle played and uses it in his own game. Tyler told USA Today “[Todd] has taught me a lot about how to be an agitator and how to just let me play my game, and be good at it.”

In 2013, when Detroit drafted Tyler Bertuzzi, Tyler looked as though he would be battling with Andreas Athanasiou for top prospect on the left side. Then next year’s draft came and the Wings would take a left winger with their 1st round pick. This player has become one of the more hyped prospects in the league from his stellar play in college and in the Worl Junior tournament.

This prospect is Dylan Larkin.

Dylan Larkin’s freshman year at the University of Michigan was superb. His two-way play was consistent and he was a key performer for the Wolverines. Add that to his performance at the World Juniors and a World Championship tournament bronze medal. Larkin has accomplished what some professionals have yet to reach and did so at the age of 18.

Larkin could be a top 6 forward for the Red Wings or any NHL team in the near future. If the rest of the playoffs go well for Larkin and he has a very good camp, he could be in a ridiculous race for the Calder Trophy. Names that race could potentially include are Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, and any sleepers that could arise.

It is natural for a Wings fan to look at the potential of Dylan Larkin and get excited. Larkin has a power forward’s body and can still bring an offensive bite.

However, don’t just throw Tyler Bertuzzi to the curb.

The Red Wings were criticized by fans after taking him in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft, but now they are looking genius. Bertuzzi has come from the Guelph Storm to the Grand Rapids Griffins and has pleased all that have watched him. Many have praised him for his 200-foot game and his ability to stand in front of the net to make plays.

What fans should know is that Bertuzzi has been showing signs of ability to have a front net presence since playing in the OHL.

(I apologize in advance for the poor audio quality)

He is always around the net and often finds his goals around that area.  Another trait people give Bertuzzi credit for is his ability to play well with good players. When he was playing in Guelph, Bertuzzi often times played with Robbi Fabbri (when he was healthy), who is one of the St. Louis Blues top prospects and a former 1st round pick.

Griffins coach Jeff Blashill mentioned these things when he spoke to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.

"It’s a small sample size I’ve seen so far, but from what I’ve seen, Tyler is a guy who can bring an edge to a line, bring a hardness to a line, but who also has the good skills and good thought process to play with good players… He came to our team with lots of confidence, and was able to bring that to our league. He’s also had success because of the type of player he is – he’s hard, he goes to the net hard, is strong on the puck. He’s a playoff-type player."

Blashill also told the press that he thought of Justin Abdelkader as a comparison because of the way he was used with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, which is an example of being able to work with good players.  Tyler has carried over his traits from the OHL to the AHL and has even developed a bit more.

Tyler has carried over his traits from the OHL to the AHL and has even developed a bit more.

These goals are a result of Bertuzzi’s net-front presence. He gets down low and looks for a deflection or puts the puck in the net. One other thing that Bertuzzi has brought over from the OHL is his goal creation. Josh Weissbock at

One other thing that Bertuzzi has brought over from the OHL is his goal creation. Josh Weissbock at CHLStats.com defines goals created as “a factor that balances scoring goals and being credited for assists while balancing out team scoring.”

Bertuzzi had some of the best goals created stats in the OHL this past year. Among all OHL’ers with at least 25 games played, Bertuzzi finished 5th in the O’ with 33.96, 9th in goals created per games played with .499 and 1st in percentage of team’s goals created with 14.33%.

Tyler has brought his ability to create goals along with him to the AHL as well.

So all in all, Bertuzzi may have some of his uncle’s famous grittiness, but he still packs a punch offensively by getting near the net and creating goals on his own. Wings fans that were scratching their heads after Detroit made this selection in June might want to start taking back some of the things they said about it.

For fun, if you take a look at the comments of this article by Ansar Khan from MLive about the Wings taking Bertuzzi in the 2nd of the 2013 draft, you can bet some might want to take what they said back. 

Because the Detroit Red Wings like to develop their prospects slowly, you can bet that Bertuzzi will be with the Griffins at the start of the season next year. This will only help Bertuzzi, as he still needs to considerably bulk up before taking a real shot at the NHL roster. Wings fans can cheer for Dylan Larkin next year while Bertuzzi works his way up to a potential 2nd or 3rd line scorer for the Red Wings.