Tyler Bertuzzi has been labeled the Toronto Maple Leafs x-factor by head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Photo credit: Toronto Sun

Sheldon Keefe calls Tyler Bertuzzi Leafs X-factor Ahead of Playoffs

Published April 11, 2024 at 9:52

After a 5-2 win against the New. Jersey Devils Tuesday night, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe talked about how impressed he was with Tyler Bertuzzi. When Bertuzzi started the season with only 2 goals and 3 points in his first 12 games, there were doubts in Leafs Nation about GM Brad Treliving's decision to sign Bertuzzi to a 1-year, $5.5M deal last summer.

However, the situation has changed significantly since then. After scoring 2 goals and earning 3 points in New Jersey last night, Bertuzzi has now reached 21 goals and 42 points in 76 games this season alongside Auston Matthews and Max Domi. He has , with 15 goals and 22 points since the beginning of February. Exactly a year ago, Bertuzzi was red-hot, scoring 5 goals and providing 5 assists, totaling 10 points in 7 games against the Florida Panthers. Despite his stellar play, the Presidents-trophy winning Boston Bruins fell short in Game 7 against the Panthers, losing the series after initially leading 3-1.

Sure enough, Florida defeated the Leafs in Round 2 and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. Unfortunately, they couldn't clinch the victory, losing in 5 games to the eventual 2022-23 Stanley Cup champions. Sheldon Keefe calling Bertuzzi an X-factor for the upcoming playoffs shows how much trust he has in him. It also opens the door for a potential extension.

All I can say is, you know, throughout his career, at different levels, he seems to have that knack. Junior hockey, American League, NHL... so I think he is a bit of an X-factor. He's got that competitiveness in him. He plays hard, he's fearless, he's got a good stick, both to make plays and finish around the net and he goes to dirty areas, which really helps open things up for his line, but also, that he's in the right places when the puck arrives so we've been saying it throughout the season that we sensed that he's going to be trend in the right direction at the most important time of the year, and we've seen that."

He's been a 20 goal scorer in four of the last six seasons, but he already makes $5.5 million per
year, and his injury concerns, don't help his case. Yet with the salary cap projected to rise, he can maybe reach the crooked number of six. For now, the focus is on the playoffs and Bertuzzi proving he is that X-factor.
April 11   |   253 answers
Sheldon Keefe calls Tyler Bertuzzi Leafs X-factor Ahead of Playoffs

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