The offseason evaluation of the Red Wing forwards meets its conclusion with the depth players getting their share of the spotlight. These players were mostly healthy scratches or just did not have what the Red Wings expected them to have in their play this season. Without further adue, let us begin.
Todd Bertuzzi: Right Wing
To put it simply, “Uncle Todd” as Tyler Bertuzzi would say, just doesn’t have it anymore to play consistently at this level. At the age of 39, Bertuzzi played in 59 games totalling 16 points and a dreadful -17. That number alone tells the story. He’s lost a step, and has shown it over the past few seasons with his durability. Bertuzzi also had a knack for taking killer penalties as well, totalling 40 minutes in penalties on the season. Likely coming up on the end of his career, Bertuzzi has expressed tremendous interest in staying within Detroit’s organization. That would be fine, as long it is not a roster spot, no offense to Bertuzzi. The youth movement is alive and well in Hockeytown, and Bertuzzi would just be a burden in stunting growth of some ripe young forwards Detroit has in their system. It was a solid run in Hockeytown for Bertuzzi, and it looks like it is meeting its end, at least as a player.
Danny Cleary: Right Wing
This Newfie has a knack for staying around doesn’t he? The 35-year old Carbonear winger has had his setbacks in his time donning the Winged Wheel, more so the last 3 seasons. Cleary’s knees are not in the best shape at this point in his career, yet he took Gus Nyquist’s roster spot at the beginning of the year this past season. A farcry from his career year in 2010-11 when he scored 26 goals, Cleary had four goals and eight points in 52 games played before going out for the season with multiple injuries. A recent report has stated that the Red Wings are interested in bringing Danny back for next year. Although he is a known playoff performer in his time with the Red Wings, this would do more harm than good in my opinion, since the young guns showed what they could do this season taking the jobs of many veterans. Ken Holland has always loved his veterans, but this would be taking it way too far. He could remain within the organization, but a roster spot would just be detrimental.
Mikael Samuelsson: Right Wing
You want to talk about a waste of a roster spot, look no further than Samuelsson. Far from the form he had in four seasons with Detroit in previous years (05-09), the two years he spent in Detroit most recently were dreadful to say the least. Out of a possible 130 games played in the regular season (2013 shortened season), Samuelsson played in 30. He potted four points total in those 30 games over two seasons. With a multitude of injuries in these two seasons Samuelsson’s durability was equivalent to having glass bones and paper skin. He was even sent down to Grand Rapids when Detroit had too many forwards. He complained, saying he was never given a chance with Detroit. Well, maybe if he actually could’ve played a consistent number of games he could’ve gotten the opportunity. Still, he had 26 games to prove himself and responded with one goal on opening night and two assists in later games. Ken Holland has stated that he “doesn’t think” they will bring him back, which puzzles me that he even has to think about it.
Jordin Tootoo: Right Wing
Ah, here he is. Everyone’s favorite sparkplug on the Red Wings, Jordin Tootoo. Signed to a 3-year deal in the 2o12 offseason, Tootoo was expected to bring that grit and edginess that the Wings hadn’t had in a long time. Well, in the games he actually played in, he did just that. He was not expected to put up points, but he fought. He totalled 83 penalty minutes and 9 points in 53 games in his career with Detroit, a career that looks to be meeting its end. The last two offseasons Detroit has actively tried to shop the 31-year old grinder, and looks to use the second compliance buyout in as many seasons on Tootoo. It is disappointing to see this happen to any player, but at the same time, one has to look at the amount of healthy scratches Tootoo was given in his time with Detroit. With a logjam of forwards and a new wave of stars filtering through the system, Detroit just has no space for Tootoo. He has spent the better part of this season in Grand Rapids with the AHL affiliate, and the buyout will get him an NHL job elsewhere. It’s a disappointing end to Tootoo’s career in Detroit, but it is the right move for both sides.
This concludes the summer evaluation of forwards for the 2013-14 season for the Red Wings. Stay tuned for a Prospects Series leading up to Draft Day in Philadelphia! After Philly, the NHL free agent sweepstakes begins as the Wings look to bolster their roster with assets on the market. Stay tuned with complete coverage of the whole offseason on The Winged Wheel.
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Featured image, bio, and stats courtesy of DetroitRedWings.com