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Monday, July 7, 2008

Comparing Todd Bertuzzi and Owen Nolan

When news broke today that Todd Bertuzzi had signed a one-year pact worth $1.9 million with the Calgary Flames, some people raised their eyebrows and said, “Why?” In contrast, on Sunday, the Minnesota Wild signed Owen Nolan to a two-year pact worth 2yr, $5.5 million; news of Nolan’s signing was met with less scepticism.

For argument’s sake, let’s assume Bertuzzi was signed to replace Nolan (which I believe he was). With that said, we will now take a closer look at how these two players compare, and see who comes out ahead.

Bertuzzi’s numbers versus Nolan’s numbers

Last season, Bertuzzi registered 40 points in 68 games and had 97 PIMs; while Nolan registered 32 points in 77 games and 71 PIMs. First, let’s establish the fact that both of these players are power-forwards who have already seen their best days on a hockey rink. That being said, both players can still play the game at a level that merits 2nd-3rd line ice-time.

While there numbers from last season are fairly similar, if you take a look at each player’s respective career numbers, then their similarities become even more apparent. For instance, Bertuzzi has a career 0.73 points-per-game; as compared to Nolan’s career 0.75 points-per-game. Further, Bertuzzi has a career 1.4 PIM-per-game; while Nolan sports a career 1.6 PIM-per-game.


Nolan turned 36 years old in February and is entering his 19th season in the NHL. On the other hand, Bertuzzi turned 33 in February and is entering his 14th season in the NHL. So, Nolan is 3 years older than Bertuzzi, and has endured 5 more seasons of NHL play than the man who is essentially replacing him.

Each player’s attitude

Bertuzzi’s “incident” aside, both players have been known around the NHL to be a little moody and ornery from time to time. Interestingly enough, both Bertuzzi and Nolan have played on five teams over their career thus far; with Minnesota and Calgary being their sixth respectively. Whether each player’s movement was based on production/attitude is obviously open to interpretation; but the point is certainly worth mentioning.

Wow, are these two players similar

Considering both play the wing and a gritty style, just by looking at the numbers, it would be hard to determine who’s who. However, if there had been no “incident,” then teams would probably prefer Bertuzzi because he is younger, has had less of a physical toll on his body, and has recently been a little bit more productive.

Alas, Bertuzzi signed for $1.9 million for one season and the older Nolan signed for an average of $2.75 million over two seasons.

That leaves us to formulate the following opinion...

Two conclusions

Two conclusions can be deduced from this article: 1. Todd Bertuzzi’s “incident” has clearly cost him millions of dollars and, 2. The Flames may have gotten a bargain in Bertuzzi.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.

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