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It’s Bubble Keeper Week! Over the next few days across the website, Dobber's writing staff will be discussing players who aren't undisputed 'keepers' – the less obvious fantasy assets. In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll discuss two players that match such a description – Tyler Bertuzzi and Jonathan Drouin.
A back injury limited the 26-year-old winger to just nine games last season. He had a big impact in that small sample, tallying five goals, two assists and four power-play points. As is often the case when a player misses a large chuck of the season, the 'out of sight, out of mind' effect has kicked in and Bertuzzi's fantasy value is sitting a lot lower than it should ahead of the 2021-2022 campaign. Now, I'm not saying that because Bertuzzi put up seven points in nine games last year (which translates to 64 points in 82 games), he should be treated as a 65-point player this season. Last year's sample was too small for us to use it as the foundation of any arguments surrounding Bertuzzi's fantasy value. Instead, it may be helpful to take on a large-scale approach that places more of an emphasis on his career trajectory.
As I mentioned earlier, Bertuzzi is 26 years old. When a skater reaches that age, we usually have a pretty good idea of their capabilities. However, that's because when most players reach such an age, we've seen them in action for at least four or five full seasons. That isn't the case with Bertuzzi, who only has 208 NHL games under his belt. As such, I think there's more room for Bertuzzi to grow than there would be for your typical 26-year-old forward. His first real season was the 2017-2018 campaign, where he averaged 14 and a half minutes a night and paced for 41 points. He took a big step forward in 2018-2019, pacing for 53 points while skating 16 and a half minutes per game. He enjoyed another increase in ice time during the 2019-2020 season, where he saw over 19 minutes of action a night. His production didn't increase proportionally, but he paced for a respectable 55 points. It's entirely possible that Bertuzzi caps out as a 55-point player, but like I said before, I believe there's still room for him to grow. More importantly, I think Detroit has made some recent improvements that will help Bertuzzi take the next step forward. In swapping Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana late last season, the Red Wings gave up a talented power forward for a player with more offensive potential. Vrana's offensive abilities could benefit his teammates, na