NY Islanders UFA Target: Tyler Bertuzzi

Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game One
Florida Panthers v Boston Bruins - Game One / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The NY Islanders made the playoffs in 2022-23 after missing out the previous season, but their limitations showed in a six-game defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes simply were faster, more skilled, and got the job done in overtime to take down the blue and orange in the first round. This offseason now becomes very important for the Isles who need to make moves, whether that is through trades or letting players walk to free agency, to compete with a strong Eastern Conference that continues to get stronger. There are plenty of skilled players that the Isles could lure in and have a significant role in this year's free-agent class. So, with just under one month until the beginning of the free-agent frenzy, here's our first realistic target for the Islanders: Tyler Bertuzzi.

NY Islanders UFA Target: Tyler Bertuzzi

Bertuzzi has the type of mold that is perfect for playoff hockey, which is exactly what the Islanders need on the wing. He's an aggressive winger who knows how to finish near the net and works well in any team's top six. 

Bertuzzi, 28, is slated to become a UFA after being traded at the deadline by Detroit to the record-setting Boston Bruins. He often found himself on a line with 60-goal-scorer David Pastrnak and was a perfect compliment to one of the league's best players. Bertuzzi finished the regular season with 30 points in 50 games but scored four goals and five assists in their seven-game series against the Florida Panthers. It's hard to stand out as a deadline acquisition for the best regular season team in NHL history, but he found a way when Taylor Hall was put on IR for the rest of the season.

The Bruins will try their best to re-sign the 28-year-old before he hits the open market, but Boston has quite a lot to juggle with their cap situation after they received an overage penalty of $4.5 million due to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci's bonuses exceeding the limit. He could end up making around $5.5-$6.5 million per year on the cap if he makes it to July 1st, so the Bruins would need to make room fast to re-sign him.

The other thing standing in the way of a Bertuzzi signing is his vaccination status. A couple of years ago while the NHL was dealing with COVID-19 and Canada's restriction on unvaccinated people entering the country, Bertuzzi made it known that he was not vaccinated. Granted, COVID-19 is no longer causing a pandemic, but Lamoriello's policy was that all team members get the vaccine. If he no longer considers that a factor, then Bertuzzi should be a higher-priority target for the Isles.