DETROIT – Unrestricted free agents Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson will not be offered new contracts by the Detroit Red Wings, General Manager Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily this past week.
Whether they will be part of some trade or two is unclear.
What is clear is their departures will free up $5,075,000 in cap space for Detroit, a team which already has the pieces to fill the veterans' spots -- a win-win.
While we wait to see what happens, let's take a look back at Bertuzzi and Samuelsson, who both had two separate stints with the Red Wings.
Bertuzzi first came to Detroit from the Florida Panthers at the 2007 trade deadline in exchange for prospect Shawn Matthias (who happens to play for the Vancouver Canucks now).
The then 32-year-old -- who was coming off of an injury -- wasn't exactly outstanding in the playoffs that year. The Red Wings did reach the Western Conference finals, but Bertuzzi scored just 3 goals and 4 assists in 16 games.
He left town in the offseason on a two-year, $8 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks -- the same team which knocked the Red Wings out of playoffs en route to winning the Stanley Cup. Then he ended up in Calgary for a year before returning to Detroit for the 2009-10 season.
With his best years behind him (he scored 97 points with the Canucks in 2002-03), Bertuzzi was in Detroit to offer size, experience and skill in coach Mike Babcock's offensive lineup. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the team, followed by bigger ones.
Overall, the next five seasons amounted to a successful tenure for Bert. Despite suffering numerous injuries between 2006 and 2009, he came back to Detroit healthy. He played all 82 games with the Red Wings in 2009-10, scoring 18 goals and racking up 26 assists that year. He added another 11 points in 12 playoff games. He scored 45 points in 81 games the next season, followed by 38 points in 71 games.
He was solid until injuries again caught up to him, forcing him in and out of the lineup a lot the past two seasons.
Bertuzzi's game changed to more of a two-way style while with the Red Wings. He adapted to better serve the team. He wasn't the power forward he was in Vancouver, but the Red Wings weren't asking him to be that. Yet, his hands were as good as ever, and he showed flashes of magic, reminding us he is the same guy who scored 119 points one season in juniors.
Obviously, he wanted a Stanley Cup. At 39, maybe he has a year or two left to try for it with another team.
His nephew, Tyler Bertuzzi, is a Red Wings prospect. Maybe we'll see uncle Bert around.
Bert became known around the league for some great hands in the shootout:
At this point, it might be difficult to recall Samuelsson scoring 23 goals and 22 assists in 2005-06 with the Red Wings. In fact, in his first stint with the team he had three 40-point-or-better seasons.
He proved to be an instrumental piece on the 2008 Stanley Cup team, scoring 5 goals and 8 assists in 22 playoff games. He offered more secondary scoring in 2008-09 before leaving for Vancouver, where he enjoyed his best NHL season.
Despite all that, the Red Wings never should have brought him back. They did with a 2-year, $6 million contract -- much more than he was making his first time in Detroit.
The now 37-year-old, hampered by injuries (at one point he was out of the lineup with a broken finger?), appeared in just 30 games (1 goal, 3 assists) over two seasons with Detroit.
This is the guy Mike Babcock appeared not to want on the team at one point, but then he wanted him back after his 30-goal season in Vancouver. That's because when he was at his best (playing with the Sedin twins), Samuelsson had a threatening shot from the wing -- and he took a lot of shots thanks to Babcock's "harping."
Samuelsson's second stint is a reminder that things don't always work out, no matter how good it may look on paper. Sometimes guys get hurt and they just can't get back into a lineup -- especially one with so much young talent waiting to break in. The Wings ended up sending him through waivers and to Grand Rapids, where he played two games with the Griffins.
The Red Wings would have been better off holding onto Samuelsson after 2008-09 season, but it's easier to say that now. Bringing him back as an aging veteran to a team with so much young talent ready to burst was probably not the best move. It was an insurance move that didn't work out.