- Tyler Bertuzzi is off to a scorching hot start to the season, with a league-leading five goals in three games. The Detroit Red Wings forward is coming off a season lost to injury and ready to show the league he’s still as dangerous as ever. Unfortunately, that hot start will be put on pause after tomorrow’s game against the Calgary Flames. The Red Wings will travel to Montreal for Saturday’s matchup against the Canadiens, and Bertuzzi confirmed to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that he’ll be watching from home. One of the few unvaccinated players in the league, Bertuzzi is unable to travel to Canada without serving a quarantine, so will remain in Detroit while the team goes on the road.
Red Wings Rumors
The NHL Department of Player Safety has announced a one-game suspension for Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. The ruling comes after Larkin was given a match penalty during Thursday night’s game after a punch to the face of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mathieu Joseph. As noted in the explanatory video, the rationale behind the suspension from the Department is as follows:
Larkin and Joseph raced for the loose puck, and Larkin cuts in front of Joseph to establish position. Joseph shoves Larkin, causing him to hit the boards and fall to the ice. Larkin then gets to his feet, finds Joseph, and swings wildly, punching the unsuspecting Joseph in the face with a gloved hand, with sufficient force to knock him to the ice. This is roughing. It is important to note that this is not a case of two players who willingly choose to engage in a mutual confrontation. Joseph has no warning that he is about to be punched, and Larkin gives him no time to brace for contact, defend himself, or choose to engage in the altercation. We understand that Larkin is frustrated on this play, but, as our Department has established in the past, players are not excused from punishment merely because they’re acting in response to the actions of another player. What causes this play to rise to the level of supplemental discipline is the retaliatory nature of the punch and the force with which it is delivered to an unsuspecting opponent.
Larkin has no previous history of suspension. He will miss Saturday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks and will be eligible to return on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s also important to note that Larkin may have been held out of the game against Vancouver regardless, as he was an extremely limited participant in practice this morning due to a potential injury suffered on the controversial hit by Joseph. Larkin’s health will be evaluated today.
In Larkin’s absence, it’s likely that Robby Fabbri will shift to center on the top line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond, who could make his NHL debut on Saturday, on his wings. Carter Rowney could slot into the lineup in a fourth-line role.
12:33 pm: Head coach Jeff Blashill reports that Larkin’s absence from most of practice was indeed due to the Joseph hit. Blashill notes that Larkin will “see some people today,” likely meaning the team will issue an update tonight or tomorrow.
The play originated with Joseph making a controversial hit on Larkin into the boards, which caused Larkin to fall. Larkin’s hearing generates from when he got back up from the fall, immediately punching an unsuspecting Joseph, who fell to the ice.
Referees assessed Joseph a roughing penalty on the play, while Larkin was assessed a match penalty and removed from the game. He finished the night with a goal and a +3 rating. It was an unexpectedly chaotic home opener for the Red Wings, who fell 7-6 to the Lightning in overtime after entering the last ten minutes of the third period with a 6-3 lead.
MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports that Larkin made a brief appearance at the Red Wings’ practice this morning, but promptly left the ice. It’s unclear at this time whether this has to do with the timing of the hearing or if Larkin suffered any injury on the play.
Decisions have been made on many of the players who were attending NHL training camps on tryouts but one call that hasn’t been made yet is Red Wings winger Bobby Ryan. The veteran was in Detroit last season but settled for a PTO deal at the beginning of training camp. MLive’s Ansar Khan suggests that Ryan has done well enough to earn a spot and could slot into their top six following the long-term injury to Jakub Vrana. While he’s not an ideal fit in that role at this stage of his career, the 34-year-old managed seven goals in 33 games last season and could still contribute a little bit in a middle-six role.
- The Detroit Red Wings will be without Michael Rasmussen for the next few days, head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters including Max Bultman of The Athletic. It’s just a “little tweak” for the young forward, but he won’t be playing in the next few preseason games for the Red Wings. Rasmussen signed a new three-year, $4.38MM deal with Detroit this offseason after playing in 40 games during the 2020-21 campaign.
Vrana, 25, just signed a new three-year, $15.75MM contract with the Red Wings last month after going on a tear down the stretch. Acquired from the Washington Capitals as part of the return for Anthony Mantha, the young forward had eight goals and 11 points in 11 games for the Red Wings. With the team still turning the corner on their rebuild, Vrana was one of the team’s most dangerous offensive weapons and will leave a huge hole in the lineup as he recovers from this surgery.
In fact, for a team that was just hoping to be competitive, losing Vrana could very well put them in the running for the 2022 Draft Lottery once again. It’s not that he’s the only effective player on the roster, but it’s hard to see how the Red Wings are going to be dangerous enough offensively to compete most nights without their second-highest paid forward. His absence of course will open the door for another young player to step up, but this is about as bad as it gets for the Red Wings.
There will be no need to move Vrana to long-term injured reserve, as the Red Wings are nowhere near the salary cap upper limit. He’ll move to regular IR as he works through this recovery, hopefully returning before the end of the season. Four months from today would be the end of January, though coach Blashill said it would be at least that long.
Hockey is back as the preseason enters its second day. While teams continue to announce roster moves and training camp cuts, there’s a variety of news and notes from around the league and sport that have come through the wire. The most notable takes us to the Detroit Red Wings, where head coach Jeff Blashill reports that forward Jakub Vrana will see a specialist on Monday for a shoulder injury suffered this week. After yesterday’s report from Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen that Vrana would be reevaluated later, this is a quick turnaround from such an uncertain timeline. Any absence would be a huge blow to Detroit, for whom Vrana scored at a point-per-game pace last season.
Some other news from around the hockey world:
- The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline notes the discrepancy in the role that Jakub Voracek will carry during his second tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Voracek’s last season in Columbus came in 2010-11 at the age of 21, playing 10 seasons and 727 games in Philadelphia after a trade. Dealt back to Columbus this offseason in exchange for Cam Atkinson, Voracek now returns as the oldest player on the Columbus roster. He’ll be tasked with being a strong voice in terms of leadership to help gel a rebuilding squad. It’s something that Voracek says he’s “ready to fill” due to his experience in Philadelphia.
- After announcing a move to create a Division I hockey program back in June, South Dakota’s Augustana University will announce the program officially on October 5. Including the groundbreaking of the team’s new arena, the event will mark history for hockey in South Dakota. It continues a recent tradition of lesser-known schools breaking into the Division I scene.
While the bulk of training camp cuts will come later in camp – regular waivers don’t even open up until Thursday – some teams will make roster moves early on. We’ll keep tabs on those here.
Calgary Flames (via team release)
F Lucas Ciona (to Seattle, WHL),
F Cole Huckins (to Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL)
D Cole Jordan (to Moose Jaw, WHL)
F Rory Kerins (to Soo, OHL)
D Greg Moro (to Stockton, AHL)
F Ilya Nikolaev (Tri-City, USHL)
F Reid Perepeluk (to Stockton, AHL)
G Carter Serhyenko (released to Prince Albert, WHL)
G Connor Ungar (released from ATO to Red Deer, WHL)
D Cameron Whynot (to Halifax, QMJHL)
D Koletrane Wilson (to Stockton, AHL)
F Ben King (released from ATO to Red Deer, WHL)
Carolina Hurricanes (via team release)
Detroit Red Wings (via team release)
G Jan Bednar (to Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL)
G Sebastian Cossa (to Edmonton, WHL)
F Cross Hanas (to Portland, WHL)
D Oscar Plandowski (to Charlottetown, QMJHL)
F Pasquale Zito (to Windsor, OHL)
F Cameron Butler (released from ATO to Niagara, OHL)
F Luke Toporowoski (released from ATO to Spokane, WHL)
F Cooper Walker (released from ATO to Guelph, OHL)
Edmonton Oilers (via team release)
F Jake Chiasson (to Brandon, WHL)
F Matvey Petrov (to North Bay, OHL)
F Tyler Tullio (to Oshawa, OHL)
F Brady Burns (released from ATO to Saint John, QMJHL)
F Drew Englot (released from ATO to Regina, WHL)
G Ethan Kruger (released from ATO to Brandon, WHL)
F Henry Rybinski (released from ATO to Seattle, WHL)
New York Rangers (via team Twitter)
F Jayden Grubbe (to Red Deer, WHL)
Ottawa Senators (via team Twitter)
This post will be updated throughout the day.
The Detroit Red Wings expect to be shorthanded when they travel to Montreal to battle the Canadiens on October 23. GM Steve Yzerman explained that Tyler Bertuzzi, the Red Wings’ third-highest paid forward, has declined the COVID-19 vaccine and the team anticipates that he will not travel with the club to Canada this season.
Tyler will follow the protocols for non-vaccinated players. Most significant, and not really a part of the protocol, is that as of now and for the forseeable future, you can’t enter Canada unless you are vaccinated. So that obviously will be an issue when we go to play Canadian teams.
As of now, under the Canadian laws, he won’t be able to cross the border so he wouldn’t be able to play in any games in Canada.
Because unvaccinated players are not expected to be paid for games/days missed due to COVID-related absences, including those caused by government restrictions and quarantines, Bertuzzi would be forfeiting $191K just for the nine gamedays the Red Wings have scheduled against Canadian teams. With travel days added (along with days in between games on their Western Canada trip from March 12-17) he could be forfeiting quite a bit more.
That said, the Red Wings didn’t actually confirm that Bertuzzi will be suspended during those trips, meaning there is still a chance he could receive his full salary. The benefit of a short suspension, other than saving money for the organization, is that teams will receive corresponding cap relief for those days away from the roster. The Red Wings, who currently sit $15MM under the salary cap ceiling, wouldn’t benefit much from that added space.
Even though deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected just 10-15 players would be unvaccinated when the season begins, that will still pose an issue for some teams as they resume traveling around North America. Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland admitted today that one of his team’s players has also declined the vaccination, though he did not identify the player. While Bertuzzi may only miss eight games, Holland explained that his player could miss up to 30 given the quarantine that would be required for cross-border travel.
The Detroit Red Wings will give Bobby Ryan another chance to play this season, or at least a chance to earn a contract. The veteran forward has signed a professional tryout with Detroit and will be at training camp when it starts in a few days.
Ryan, 34, played 33 games for the Red Wings last season, scoring seven goals and 14 points before injury shut him down. He quickly explained then that he wanted to continue his playing career if possible, but a PTO wasn’t an unforeseeable conclusion at this point. There was a time that Ryan was one of the most feared power forwards in the league, scoring 30+ goals on a regular basis, but that player has been gone for years now. Over the last two seasons, he has combined for just 22 points in 77 games, though he remains a beloved teammate and locker room presence.
The interesting thing about Ryan is that a league minimum contract shouldn’t be a problem, given that he will still earn $1.83MM from the Ottawa Senators this season after a 2020 buyout. In fact, he’ll earn that amount in each of the next four seasons after they bought out the final two years of his seven-year, $50.75MM deal. Ryan played for the Red Wings last year with a $1MM salary, but likely won’t even command that much if he does earn a deal again this year.
Of course it may not be in Detroit at all, given how many youngsters they also want to fit into the lineup. A tryout gives Ryan the chance to showcase himself for the whole league and prove that there’s still something left in his tank.