Since Tyler Motte joined the Vancouver Canucks from a trade with the Blue Jackets, he has become a key member of the fourth line and an emotional catalyst for the team.
When Tyler Motte was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2018 trade deadline, it was difficult to find someone that liked the trade. Thomas Vanek was the one going the other way, and he had 41 points on the season and was a pleasant surprise for the team.
With yet another season going by the wayside, many fans thought that Jim Benning could find a suitor that would be willing to give up a high draft pick for the skilled Austrian. But given his poor stretch run and playoff history, no team was willing to give up that much in a trade.
So Benning had to settle for a seemingly low-end player in Motte. Little did we know at the time how much of an impact he was going to make on the team in the future.
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Motte defies the odds in 2018-19
After playing 15 games and scoring two goals with the Canucks at the end of the 2017-18 season, Motte was going to have to prove to his new team that he was worth keeping. He was not eligible for waivers, so he had to blow the socks off of the coaching staff to stick around. Being up against a veteran player like Sam Gagner, who was subject to waivers did not help his cause either. He had to not only prove that he belonged, but he also had to prove that he was better than an NHL veteran.
Being the hard worker and tenacious guy he is, Motte rose to the challenge and played his heart out during the 2018 pre-season. He was noticeable almost every shift and made it impossible for the Canucks to send him down to the American Hockey League.
Despite being eligible for waivers, Gagner became the casualty of Motte’s strong play. Staying true to his word, Benning rewarded the hard work and overall performance of a player, even though his contract made it easy to send him to the minors.
Motte didn’t just rest on his laurels after the preseason, he continued his strong play throughout the season, finishing the campaign with a career-high 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists). He also solidified himself as a reliable penalty killer and a consistent presence on the third and fourth lines. He even got to play in the top six with Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson when head coach Travis Green needed a spark.
Motte continues to grow into his role in 2019-20
Like a fine wine, Motte continues to get better with time. Going into the 2019-20 season, he found himself on the bubble again at the end of training camp. But his performance from the previous season and another strong preseason, he kept his spot on the roster for a second straight season. While veteran forwards Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin were being shuttled down to the minors, he remained. That’s a testament to his work ethic and the overall package he brings to the rink.
Motte kept his spot on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Tim Schaller to start the season and remained on the penalty kill. Along with the rest of the team, he had a strong October despite not scoring a goal and only registering one point. But points are not everything in this league, as we soon found out the following month.
Motte was the first to join the revolving door in the medical ward after blocking a shot against the Washington Capitals on Oct 25. Going into November the Canucks were going to be without their most effective energy forward.
In the time he rehabbed his broken foot, the team struggled mightily to fill his spot on the fourth line. Loui Eriksson, Zack MacEwen, and even Jake Virtanen were all used at some point to generate the same emotion he brought to the game with little to no success. The line failed to generate any energy with those players and was also a mess defensively.
Fast forward to now and Motte has returned to rejuvenate the fourth line and make it great once again. He has carved out a role on this team, and when he is removed, you notice. He is also only 24 years old, with plenty of untapped potential. Even if this is his ceiling, you need players like him on the team to win a Stanley Cup, ones that go to battle and never stop working.
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That’s Motte, the ingredient that completes the recipe and transforms it from a mediocre dish to a gourmet meal.