Opinion: Signing Tyler Bertuzzi Means Moving Brad Marchand

Photo: NBC Sports

About 360 days ago if you said that Bruce Cassidy would be a Stanley Cup champion in 2023 fans would be celebrating down Causeway. So long as you didn’t mention he would be coaching the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Well, that wasn’t how it was supposed to go now was it?

Back in New England the Boston Bruins were ousted by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, losing two critical home games with an opportunity to close out the series. Since words cannot possibly describe how surprising the outcome was, I won’t bother. 

So, what now? Well, for starters the NHL Draft. 

Fortunately Boston is eligible to select in the first round, just not until 2025. So do not expect reinforcements by way of the junior ranks. At the earliest, Boston will select in the 3rd round in less than two weeks and is without a selection until the fourth round in 2024. But such is the cost of contention. 

So it would appear changes to the physical roster are almost a certainty. “We’re not going to be the same team,” Bruins General Manager told the media during his end of season press conference. “I couldn’t just categorically sign (Bertuzzi, Hathaway, Orlov) today.”

With the salary cap in 2023-24 only expected to increase “no higher” than a million dollars or $83.5 million total, where could the cash-strapped Bruins find relief? Now, under the assumption both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are not returning next season. Is it within reason to float Brad Marchand around? 

Marchand at 35 years old carries a relatively team friendly cap hit of $6.1 million and has term beyond this upcoming season, through 2025. Compare that to another popular scapegoat in 31 year old Taylor Hall and his $6 million dollar deal which is set to expire in the same year as Marchands and the odds still stack against number 63. While there isn’t a team in the league that wouldnt want Marchand, one does not simply move a $6.1 million dollar contract overnight.

As luck would have it the Colorado Avalanche announced that their captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss the entirety of the 2023-24 season following successful cartilage transplant in his right knee. News, while unfortunate, affords Colorado some much needed clarity on their salary cap situation. “It potentially opens up avenues that weren’t available to us this past season,” Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland said. ‘Avenues’ in the form of $7 million in extra money come free agency. 

Now, Colorado is far from a definitive landing spot for Marchand. Especially with key young players of their own to lockdown like Bowen Byrum and Alex Newhook. More established players like J.T. Compher and Evan Rodrigues also stand to get raises, and the uncertainty of Val Nichushkin’s situation leaves a lot to ponder.

However, Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon, who like Marchand just so happens to hail from Nova Scotia, is likely to demand some backup to complement himself and Mikko Rantanen. Colorado stumbled defending their 2022 Stanley Cup championship, falling in seven games to the universally renowned underdog Seattle Kraken. A series which undoubtedly did not sit well with MacKinnon, who’s Avalanche’s inconsistent offense ultimately led to their downfall. “I thought we played a really great game, just couldn’t find the back of the net.” It’s worth pointing out that In seven playoff games Brad Marchand managed to accumulate 10 points.

Now, on the eve of the franchise’s 100th birthday it’s difficult to imagine the Boston Bruins without David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand present for the festivities. But consider what $6.1 in extra cap space to compliment the existing $4.9 million according to CapFriendly could do not only for next year, but the years to come.

Unrestricted free agent Tyler Bertuzzi, for one, showed instant chemistry with David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha. Bertuzzi became an instant powerplay tool with his netfront presence and at 28 years old is still in the prime of his career. Coming off his two year extension which carried a $4.75 AAV originally signed with the Detroit Red Wings, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where Bertuzzi will land in terms of value and length in his next deal. But there are some recent comparables.

For instance the 24 year old Jesper Bratt of the New Jersey Devils recently signed an 8 year $63 million deal with a $7.878 AAV. While 28 year old defenseman Damon Severson signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 8 years at $50 million or $6.25 AAV. Finally, 23 year old Filip Chytil, a center for the New York Rangers, in March signed a 4 year $17.75 million dollar deal carrying a $4.43 AAV.

Backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic, Connor Clifton, Dmitry Orlov, Tomas Nosek, Garnet Hathaway and Nick Foligno join Bertuzzi as free agents. With Swayman and Frederic standing as ‘restricted’ free agents meaning if a team wanted to sign either player Boston would have the ability to review and match an offer and would receive draft capital for choosing to allow the player to sign elsewhere.

Whether or not Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci decide to return or Brad Marchand dealt for cap space, Boston’s reality remains the same. Earnestly they lack the organizational depth to simply move on from the trio, again such is the cost of being a contender. While it’s painful to consider the final three pieces of the 2011 Stanley Cup team could depart posthumously, an organization cannot move on, until it does precisely that.

7 thoughts on “Opinion: Signing Tyler Bertuzzi Means Moving Brad Marchand

  1. What! Nope, no way, Brad is a Bruin and an important part of the team. Tyler’s been on the team all of 5 minutes, we’ll survive without him. Next ridiculous question🫣

  2. Marchand finishes his career in black and gold end of story. Players who are legit on the block are Grzelcyk and Ullmark.

  3. The little ball of hate is my favourite Bruin! He bleeds black and gold… there’s other options for dealing with the salary caps… moving marchie shouldn’t be one of them 🤨

  4. They’ve just secured depth goalie #3 to a one year deal at league min., two-way contract. Ullmark is likely a great trade option, sadly breaking up the great tandem. But, sign Swayman under $3M, bring up Bussi, let Frederick RFA deal go for compensation, and keep Marchy, while offering Bertuzzi up to $6M annual deal, and hope he stays. Trade Hall and Gryz’s rights for pick(s). We’re losing Orlov & likely Hathaway. Give Lysell and Loheri a shot with the Big B’s. It’s all we have left now…


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