The point you continue to miss is that Bert is not a mediocre scorer for his price tag. Yes, his scoring isn't what it once was, but his production is worth well more than his tag. The players you mentioned aren't in the same boat.
Bert is not a first-rate player, but he's not a third-rate player either. As far as adding a better player at the deadline, adding a player in what would've been that pro-rated price range could just as likely cost too much in regards to prospects/picks. While GR isn't bone-dry, its most certainly not abundant with the type of talent teams are calling Kenny and inquiring about. The Wings draft players for *their* system, which happens to be quite different than most teams.
The bottom line is re-signing Bert was the safe bet, because we could end up with nothing if prices are too high on trade deadline day.
... Bert's played the minutes he has because of the overwhelming injury bug that hit Detroit this season. Couple that with the fact that those guys were playing with half the Grand Rapids roster and its reason enough as to why everyone's numbers were down this season. Next year the Wings will have Bert in his second full season and much more familiar with their system. He's proven he can stay healthy and his confidence should be higher than it has been in years. He'll be playing a more balanced role on the team and is going to be able to put the puck in the net both on the second or third line given the roster stays healthy. For his *ability* and all the aforementioned there's no reason Bert can't duplicate and improve on last season and that would make his $1.9375 million cap hit beyond worth it in comparison to other players around the league making the same.
Again, Nystrom can still be had for the bottom 6 if Kenny truly believes he'll benefit this club. I tend to agree that the Wings would benefit from the Drake-type player Kenny promised us but I'm not about to throw Bert under the bus, as if seemingly blaming him for now not having the room to add one of those types.
I've admitted on several occasions that Bert was a bargain last season, and that it's not a bad price for someone of his ability. My point is that it doesn't matter. We didn't need a 'bargain' or an eigth potential top 6 forward when we would have been just fine with just a 4th liner grinder and a bunch of extra cap space.
But I'll address the bargain aspect anyway. Something you can't ignore is that there's only so much ice time to go around. Only so many spots in the top 6. Pav and Hank can't play with everyone. Everyone can't get 3 minutes of PP time.
Hudler could score 70 points, Flip could get 60, Bert, Homer, and Cleary could get 50. But they won't. Not all of them at least. Lack of ice time and opportunity WILL mean that someone
doesn't get the numbers they're capable of. How much of a bargain is Bert going to be if he gets stuck on the third line and only puts up 13 goals and 22 points? How about another 40 point season from Flip? Or 15 goals from Cleary? Or Hudler? Whether you want to admit it or not, PP time and the quality of their linemates will play a big role in the production of all those players. What good is getting Bert at a minor discount when it means we're overpaying for Flip's production?
All anyone can say in favor of Bert is 'bargain'. But he hasn't scored one point yet, so you have no idea if he will be a bargain or not. You can't just add his full potential without considering the opportunities he'll cost others, nor could you realistically expect him to fulfill his potential from a dimished role. And at this stage, you can't expect improvement either, at least nothing substantial. At best, we could expect similar numbers if he plays another full season on the top lines. Even at that, his presence alone would be costing someone else like Flip or Cleary an opportunity for increased production. And assuming that anyone's production would improve by being moved to the third line is preposterous.
Bert, as an individual, may turn out to be 'worth' his contract. But in terms of his impact on the team, I really can't see it improving the team in any meaningful way. Adding Bert gives a little extra depth in case of injuries. But that's about the only positive I see. But I can also see it coming back to hurt us by limiting our other options. He costs us the opportunity for a much bigger improvement later in the season, and possibly costs us a valuable grinder.
You say we could still add Nystrom or someone similar, but I don't really see it. We're running out of space very quick, and that's assuming a full $2 million increase in the cap. People are expecting minimal raises for Helm and Abby, which is far from certain. A defenseman of any kind of quality is going to cost a decent chunk. If we want someone like Nystrom it could mean we have to sacrifice someone like Eaves or Ritola. And while getting a top end player at the deadline wouldn't be guaranteed, it wouldn't be impossible either. There's always a good number of players available, many being just salary dumps to be had for bargain prices. Nor would we necessarily have to target the best players. A couple mid-tier players could also help considerably more than Bert likely would, and might not cost much in trade. Furthermore, we might not even need
to add anything.
Again, I just think Kenny missed the mark on this one. Our top 6 (at least what I expect to be our top 6) lacks speed. We still don't have as many true goal scorers as we should. We lack a tough crease-clearing defenseman. We have a question mark in goal. We're heavily reliant on againg players. And most importantly, our options for addressing any of those are pretty limited for the next two years. Bert doesn't solve any of those problems, and barely even helps the goal scoring. At the very least, we could have had the opportunity to solve a couple of those via trades this year, even if only temporarily. Maybe none of those things will turn out to be real problems. We can hope at least. Unfortunately, that's all we can do.