Versatile, restricted free-agent winger Tyler Motte proved to be a low maintenance, high-energy grinderName:Tyler MotteAge: 24Position: Left wing/Right wingCareer stats: GP: 153 G: 18, A: 12, Pts: 30Contract status: Restricted free agent with arbitration rights on expiring three-year, US$2.77 million extension from Chicago in 2016. Carries salary cap hit of US$925,000.How 2018-19 went: Played as advertised. Acquired at the 2018 trade deadline from Columbus, along with Jussi Jokinen for unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek, Motte joined his fourth professional organization that season. He then played 15 games here to get a feel for systems and was more than noticeable at the following camp and pre-season.Smaller in stature at 5-foot-10 but big in heart at 192 pounds, Motte made the opening-night roster on merit. While many coasted in exhibition games, he quickly got on the forecheck and banged bodes, got to net and was responsible defensively. And when the Canucks started playing for keeps, he was aligned on the left side with Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen. He also worked the penalty kill with Sutter and playing one game meant he required waivers to be sent to Utica if he faltered. He didn’t.UNDER THE MICROSCOPEIt has been over six weeks since the Vancouver Canucks began their summer holidays, nine points shy of a wild-card berth into the NHL playoffs. Today we continue our microscopic examination of the team’s roster with a look at Tyler Motte:TUESDAY: Josh LeivoOlli JuoleviMarkus GranlundLuke SchennSven BaertschiBrandon SutterTravis GreenAlex BiegaJake VirtanenQuinn HughesNikolay GoldobinJim BenningChris TanevAlex EdlerTroy StecherBen HuttonMotte led the team in hits (200), was second in blocked shots among forwards (52), was fifth in take-aways (34) and his 15 giveaways were the fifth fewest among forwards who played at least 50 games. He appeared in 74 games and working in a shutdown capacity, he managed a career-high 16 points (9-7) in 12:46 of average ice time. Best suited for a fourth-line energy role, he was often deployed against top lines on right wing with Jay Beagle in the middle and revolving left wingers.However, Motte’s Corsi-For rating of 43.3 per cent — above 50 means the Canucks were controlling the puck more when he was on the ice — was fifth lowest on the club. A lot of that had to do with his forechecking role to hunt down pucks and his shutdown assignments because Beagle had the lowest CF at 40.4. Add it up and Motte was more of a help than a hindrance. He became a roster staple.“It’s pretty clear my role on a lot of nights is to make the other team’s night hard — whether hard on the body or hard in the D zone or finishing checks,” said Motte. “It just kind of snowballed. It’s not where I go out every night and say I want four or five hits, but if the opportunity is there, I’m going to take it.”
Tyler Motte of the Vancouver Canucks looses his balance batting for the puck between John Hayden (left) and Slater Koekkoek of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on February 07, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
Jonathan Daniel /
How the future looks: As a cap-friendly fourth-liner who can play either wing, he’s a low-maintenance, high-energy contributor capable of getting into double-digit scoring. In other words, he did what Tim Schaller was supposed to do as a free agent.Regardless of what the Canucks do to find Bo Horvat a winger, the trickle-down roster effect should allowed Motte to maintain his spot — unless the Canucks have other bottom-six ideas. It would also allow prospects, especially Zack MacEwen, to start with the Comets and get more looks here because he’s waiver exempt for 76 games.Travis Green likes versatility in his wingers and liked what Motte brought to the table.“I knew he was a hard-working guy who skated well and scored at the college level (a 32-goal NCAA season with Michigan) and for me, you’ve always got to go out and do it,” said the Canucks coach. “He’s done a good job. He’s tenacious and not easy to play against. He understands the defensive side. He’s not a 20-goal scorer, but can chip in now and then.”Motte had 56 points (32-24) in his final season with the powerhouse Wolverines whose roster included current NHL standouts Kyle Connor, Zach Werenski and JT Compher. But they dropped the 2016 regional final 5-2 to eventual national champion North Dakota, a dominant team that included Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher.Motte also got life lessons on and off the ice from legendary Michigan coach Red Berenson.“One of his things is, you have more time than you think with the puck — especially your first couple of years in college against bigger and older guys,” recalled Motte. “Some players are a little jumpy and it can be the same at this level.”Greatest strengths: Versatile. Fearless forechecker. Fast skater. Hard hitter. Good on PK.Greatest weakness: Scoring. There’s probably more in the tank because of take-away ability and getting to the net. Had first multi-goal career game on March 13 with two in 11 seconds against the Rangers — the second fastest in franchise history. Gerry O’Flaherty scored two goals in nine seconds on March 15, 1974 against Atlanta.Is he trade bait? No. What he can provide next season is stability and allow wingers in the system another season to develop at minor-league level.The big question: With third-line left-winger Antoine Roussel sidelined until at least Christmas following April knee surgery, can he get his game to another firstname.lastname@example.org/@benkuzma