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Slappers and Bangers: Fantasy Analysis of Tyler Bertuzzi and Ross Colton

Hey folks, welcome back to Slappers and Bangers, where we look at fantasy hockey through a multi-cat lens; specifically for limited keeper and dynasty leagues. This week we will do a fantasy analysis of Tyler Bertuzzi and Ross Colton

Bertuzzi, one of the most talked about Free Agent signings of the offseason is off to an underwhelming start, while Ross Colton just crossed his 200-game breakout threshold. The fantasy analysis will provide more insight into what we can expect from each of them for the rest of the season, and perhaps beyond.

Let’s dive in.

Tyler Bertuzzi, LW/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

He was supposed to be the best left-winger Austin Matthews had ever played with. His feisty, ‘get after it’ style of play was supposed to compliment Matthews and Mitch Marner, like Zack Hyman. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Luckily, the Leafs have John Tavares and William Nylander as option number two. The fit with Tavares has been better. However, the results are still underwhelming. With five goals and nine points in 22 games, we all expected more at this point.

His current points per game of .41 is the lowest of his career.

So what has gone wrong?

We often forget hockey players are human. There’s a human factor that doesn’t make it into statistical calculations. A new city and a new team can be a big adjustment, especially under the microscope that is Toronto.

As we’ll see, Bertuzzi is underperforming. Almost across the board, he is below career averages.

Let’s start with shooting percentage. His career average is 13.8%, this year it’s 9.6%, and last year it was a combined 7.5%. Last year Bertuzzi missed 32 games with Detroit. There’s little doubt that the injury-plagued him upon return. I don’t expect a lot of improvement here, but his shooting percentage has room to grow.

His points per 6o minutes are sitting at a very low 1.5/60, almost a point below his career average. considering his points per game sits a .41, and his career average is .65, this is no surprise. They should almost always mirror each other.

Bertuzzi is seeing the biggest hit on the power play. He’s receiving only 25.1% of the total power-play minutes. He was used to receiving a 50-60% share with Detroit. The Leafs’ second unit isn’t nearly as explosive as the first. Bertuzzi has been involved in 66.7% of power-play goals when on the ice but only has two power-play points. This is telling, he has only been on the ice for three power-play goals.

Barring an injury to one of the Leafs ‘core four’ (I hate that name), Bertuzzi is unlikely to match his special teams’ production of previous years.

His ice time is also down three minutes a game from his previous years in Detroit. That is a significant reduction in ice time. A lot of that is directly tied to the power play, almost two minutes lost.

There is a lot of room for Bertuzzi to be the recipient of positive regression. His Individual Point Percentage is almost 20% lower than his main years in Detroit. He is playing with better linemates in Toronto than he did in Detroit. This might be triggering to Detroit fans, but outside of Dylan Larkin, Bertuzzi hasn’t skated with the likes of the Leafs’ core four. I’m excluding his time in Boston because it was such a short period.

The biggest risk with Bertuzzi is his health. He is injury-prone. He has only played over 70 games twice in his career. That is always a concern.

Bertuzzi will find his way, but with his current deployment, it is unlikely he’ll reach preseason expectations. His five-on-five production will need to skyrocket. There is that potential. His linemates can produce at elite rates, of which, he could be a benefactor.

Positive regression should pull him to his points per game career average (.65 points per game), maybe slightly higher. Even at .70 points per game, Bertuzzi would only hit 57 points. It would be unrealistic to expect more than this.

Ross Colton, C, Colorado Avalanche

I thought the move to Colorado would increase his ice time. He was buried on Tampa Bay’s third line due to their depth.

Colton remains an intriguing player. With 215 career games, he’s smack dab on top of his breakout threshold. For the third year in a row, he’s producing just under half a point a game in limited minutes. He has seen an increase in ice time of one minute per game, on average in Colorado. It is still an uninspiring 13:24 per game though.

So why did I pick Ross Colton to discuss? In large part, due to his limited minutes and hitting his breakout threshold. Colorado’s second-line center, Ryan Johansen isn’t exactly playing lights-out hockey. neither is Tomas Tatar on the left wing. There’s ample opportunity for Colton to move up the lineup and steal more ice time.

He is playing 62% of his ice time with Miles Wood, and 42% of his ice time with both Wood and Logan O’Connor. Not a line one thinks of when thinking of offense.

This isn’t about who he is playing with today, it’s who could Colton be playing with, in three months. Colorado’s second-line center, Ryan Johansen isn’t exactly playing lights-out hockey. neither is Tomas Tatar on the left wing. There’s ample opportunity for Colton to move up the lineup and steal more ice time.

With only 43.8% of his zone starts in the offensive zone, Colton is once again being relied on for his defensive play. He received a similar deployment with Tampa Bay.

Colton’s points per 60 sits at 2.1, on par with previous seasons. His shooting percentage at 12.8%, is normal. Everything to date is on track with previous years.

As it stands, the only thing that will push Colton above his projected 38-point pace is an increase in ice time. That is only going to happen if he bumps someone like Tatar, Johansen, or perhaps Jonathan Drouin. None of these names have a stranglehold on their ice time. There’s room for Colton to increase his role.

This could all be temporary since Colorado will be buyers at the deadline. If they go shopping for a top six and third-line forwards it could reverse any gains Colton might make.

Given a chance, Colton could produce more and be a solid second liner. Right now though, if you’re holding your breath he is going to break out, I would start breathing. He might hit a hot streak and bump his point totals into the mid-40s range but don’t expect more. Not without a meaningful improvement in his ice time and deployment.

Sometimes a fantasy analysis reveals something unexpected. Other times, it reveals what you expect.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.

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