NHL Trade Grades: Tyler Motte to Rangers – the sequel
Rangers get: Tyler moth
Senators receive: Julien Gauthier, seven-round pick 2023 (conditional)
Shayna Goldman: Rangers continue with the same theme: correcting a slow offseason that included letting Tyler Motte go as a free agent. After the Tarasenko-Mikkola trade, the next thing New York had to address was their fourth line. Last night’s game against Calgary made that clear once again, as two-thirds of that side finished early in the second period. In Motte, management found one of the better, more cost-effective options out there – and a player they can be reasonably confident in will be a good fit for their team given his experience from last postseason. This time it also costs Julien Gauthier a seventh, having recently secured a fourth date for him.
In today’s NHL, a fourth line shouldn’t consist solely of defensive forwards. This is a reactive way of playing the game when the idea should always be to speed up the game. The best defense is rightly a good offense, and Motte helps add that element to New York’s depth. He’s a fast, disruptive winger who can help with both consistent strength and penalty shootouts.
Motte’s arrival would likely have knocked Julien Gauthier out of the New York line-up, so from that perspective it makes sense that he’s part of the return. This is a player that the team should have tried to maximize a little bit more given his ability Is there, and he was never eligible for their fourth line. It seems like management has realized who the coaches are and aren’t on, and (regardless of the dynamic should be this way) work within those boundaries to improve the team. The question now is whether the Rangers are ready. They’ve crossed another need off their checklist, but fourth-row players keep getting relegated to the right wing of the front six. On the plus side, management has time to figure out how to proceed after seeing what the lineup looks like with Motte back in the herd.
With the Senators not destined for the playoffs, it makes sense to call out upcoming free agents to ensure a return. Rather than just loading on picks, given the current situation in Ottawa, it makes sense to want younger, NHL-caliber talent. Gauthier’s ceiling probably isn’t as high as was thought when he was drafted, but he’s a quick winger who can drive to quality areas of the ice. He could use some help to reach his potential and should get the opportunity with his new team. That’s not a bad return for an upcoming UFA slotting into the fourth tier of a playoff team.
Rangers class: B+
Senator Degree: B
Sean Gentille: My biggest question here is whether Tyler Motte was with Rangers long enough to rent a condo last year. Maybe he can get the same for his second round. In terms of fit, it makes perfect sense, just like in 2022.
He’s a bottom-six disruptor with defined skills – skating, penalty shootout, penalty shootout – that any playoff team could use, and Rangers especially need more of those in their fourth row. It’s not as big a step for Chris Drury as swapping for Vladimir Tarasenko and it’s not that important, but there’s also a common DNA. This was a team that had clear and obvious needs – a six-man, prolific right wing that would push other players back to their best spots, a bottom pair option and a player who would make the fourth row a little more relevant.
Tarasenko, Niko Mikkola and Motte have all ticked the boxes. They have also been given some salary cap room by sending on Gauthier, a player who Motte might have sent to the press box anyway. The Rangers aren’t quite in step with the top of the Eastern Conference, but their lineup makes as much sense as everyone else’s. This is a dangerous team and a more playoff-ready group of skaters than those who worked before Igor Shesterkin last season. Danger. Based on suitability and opportunity cost, this performs well for New York.
As far as Ottawa is concerned, the return is fine. Gauthier doesn’t have a track record to get excited about, but he’s 6’1″ and a decent skater. That’s worth a throw, especially for an upcoming UFA. The fit is good, but… it’s still Tyler Motte. If the goal was to add a player instead of, say, a fourth round player, the mission was accomplished. I’m not exactly sure if that should have been the goal, but hey, who knows. (We’d mention that Gauthier was picked in the first round to like that move a little more for the Senators, but that’s almost seven years and two teams ago. At some point it doesn’t matter anymore. While we’re talking about stuff, doesn’t matter, he played on a junior team with Thomas Chabot.)
Rangers class: B
Senator Degree: B-
(Photo of Tyler Motte during the second round of the 2023 playoffs: Jared Silber/ NHLI via Getty Images)
https://theathletic.com/4228226/2023/02/19/nhl-trade-tyler-motte-rangers-senators/ NHL Trade Grades: Tyler Motte to Rangers – the sequel