The Detroit Red Wings were one of the busier teams this off-season. General manager Steve Yzerman added free agents David Perron, Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik, and Ben Chiarot. The Red Wings opened the season with two wins but lost a key roster piece in the process.
The Red Wings defeated the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-2 on Saturday. However, they will now be without one of their top-line forwards, who suffered an injury during the game.
Red Wings Forward to Miss 4-6 Weeks
Tyler Bertuzzi Injury against New Jersey
The Detroit Red Wings have announced that left wing Tyler Bertuzzi will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury.
Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) will be out 4-6 weeks. Jakub Vrana (personal reasons) will be unavailable tonight.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 17, 2022
Bertuzzi suffered an injury midway through the second period. While in pursuit of defending the Devils’ offensive attack, the left winger took a shot near his hand. The 27-year-old left the game in discomfort and did not return.
Bertuzzi assisted on Chiarot’s snipe from the point, which evened the game at 1-1 less than two minutes into the second period. He added two shots on goal and one block in 8:14 of ice time in that contest.
Bertuzzi has spent his entire 278-game career with the Detroit Red Wings. Throughout that time, he has had 84 goals and 155 assists for 189 career points. Bertuzzi was drafted by Detroit in the 2nd round, 58th overall, in the 2013 NHL entry draft. The physical winger has yet to play a full 82-game season in the NHL.
What This Means for the Lineup
After inking multiple forwards to the roster, Detroit was hoping to present a more competitive roster for the 2022-23 season. However, Red Wings fans and the front office will have to wait another 4-6 weeks before seeing the entire core intact.
Head Coach Derek Lalonde has a variety of youth and veteran options to replace the vacant role. In the meantime, free agent signing Kubalik will step into the first-line left-wing role alongside Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond.
On July 13, Kubalik signed a two-year, $5,000,000 contract with the Detroit Red Wings. The contract has an annual cap hit of $2,500,000. Kubalik spent the first three seasons of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, after ultimately testing free agency this past off-season.
In his shortened 68-game rookie season with Chicago, Kubalik registered a career-high 30 goals and 16 assists for 46 total points. His numbers steadily declined the next two seasons, registering 38 points in 56 games during the 2020-21 season and 32 points in 78 games during the 2021-22 season.
Kubalik’s Goal-Scoring Touch
Kubalik stands out as a consistent goal-scorer during his first three NHL seasons. He’s registered at least 15 goals every year, a very positive sign for Detroit. Kubalik may be able to replicate Bertuzzi’s 30-goal campaign in 2021-22 with first-line deployment and quality teammates.
One of Kubalik’s strongest attributes is his one-timer. According to Corey Sznajder’s All Three Zones micro-stats, Kubalik was 2.63 standard deviations above the mean of one-timers per 60 in the league in 2020–21. He continued this in 2021-22, 1.07 standard deviations above the one-timers per 60 league average.
Video Clips of Kubalik’s Deadly One-Timer
Kubalik catches a pass from Patrick Kane and blasts a power-play goal in from the circle.
Ian Mitchell passes to Kubalik, who goes bar-down for a power-play goal.
Kubalik fires a Kirby Dach drop pass past the San Jose goaltender for his 30th goal of the season.
Jonathan Toews feeds Kubalik to give the Blackhawks the lead.
How Effective This Can Be
Kubalik’s projected linemate, Larkin, seems like the perfect fit to help him capitalize on his one-timer. A new stat known as “setting” was developed by Micah Blake McCurdy at HockeyViz.
Setting measures a player’s ability to efficiently pass the puck (i.e., how close a player is to making a pass in a position where the receiver can most efficiently catch and make a play with the puck).
This idea was taken from the volleyball term, where a player must set the ball into position for a spike. The more accurate the set, the better the spike. This is the same concept as passing in hockey now.
Larkin has historically been an effective passer, 7% stronger than the league average setting in 2021-22. In addition, Detroit blue-liner Filip Hronek‘s setting was 6% stronger than the league average in 2021-22. Larkin and Hronek are set to play on the Red Wings’ second power-play unit with Kubalik. This is a great opportunity for him to cash in on special teams.
What This Means for the Remainder of the Season
The Atlantic Division saw the greatest improvement this off-season. From the start, analysts knew Detroit was in for a challenge, despite all their new additions. The loss of Bertuzzi will only make things more challenging for the Red Wings. For the short-term, however, Kubalik and his lethal one-timer doesn’t seem like the worst of replacements.
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