Tuesday February 27th, 2007

Detroit gets RW Todd Bertuzzi

On the face of it, this is a major acquisition for Detroit. Bertuzzi can be one of the most dominating physical forces in the game, and he brings the exact element of menace that the undersized Wings have craved all season long.

But is that the player they're getting? Back woes have limited the big winger to just seven games and one goal this season. He's yet to see action since Oct. 18.

So did they acquire instant impact or an instant distraction?

We really won't know for a couple of weeks. Though Bertuzzi says he's ready to go, it'll take at least that long to get into game shape...and that's assuming he doesn't tweak the back along the way.

But let's assume he regains his form. Along with Kyle Calder, who was acquired from Chicago on Monday, Bertuzzi gives the Wings a totally different dimension for their second offensive unit. They'll be a much more difficult team to play against, without giving up the speed and creativity that are their hallmarks. If he becomes the Todd Bertuzzi of old by April 10, the Wings -- written off as a rebuilding squad back in October -- are in the hunt.

Florida gets a conditional pick and Shawn Matthias Hard to believe that this is all the Panthers get for the player that cost them Roberto Luongo less than a year ago. That's not to throw GM Jacques Martin under the bus -- his hands were tied by Bertuzzi's injury -- but I'm sure he and the team's fans were hoping for a more valuable package in return.

The key for the Cats is the pick. It'll be a first-rounder if Detroit makes the conference finals and he's one of leading scorers. It's also a first if Detroit makes the Stanley Cup Finals and Bertuzzi plays a certain number of games. If they don't hit those triggers, the value of the pick diminishes... and this deal looks even less appealing from Florida's perspective.

Also, if Bertuzzi re-signs, the Panthers get a second-rounder. Whatever happens, they won't see much value in a Florida sweater from this deal for several years.

Matthias may never be a star, but he has the tools to be an NHL regular. He's big (6-4, 205) with great speed and the desire and smarts to become an elite checking line center. Just 19, he's still a couple years away from packing his bags for Miami.

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