3 Takeaways After Senators Sign Tyler Motte

It’s official: the summer of Pierre Dorion isn’t over yet. After a busy offseason of roster reconstruction, the Ottawa Senators made a final change to their squad on Wednesday [Sept. 14], boosting their forward depth with the arrival of Tyler Motte on a one-year, $1.35 million contract.

The 27-year-old joins the Senators after accumulating 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 58 appearances for the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks last season. He also found the net twice in the playoffs, helping the Blueshirts advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

Tyler Motte New York Rangers
Tyler Motte, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Motte lands in Ottawa with an extensive résumé, which includes a bronze-medal performance at the 2016 IIHF World Championship for Team USA, and promises to inject more quality into the club’s bottom six. Here are three takeaways following his signing.

Motte’s Arrival Complicates Ottawa’s Depth Chart

Motte’s entrance is interesting on several levels, starting with the selection dilemma it deepens for head coach D.J. Smith. Ottawa added Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat to their roster earlier this summer and have solidified further with their latest free-agency buy. The former fourth-round pick adds another layer of depth to the Senators’ new-look forward group, pushing the likes of Ridley Greig and Roby Järventie further down the pecking order ahead of an important season for their development.

Related: Senators’ Greig & Ostapchuk’s WJC Success Showcases Potential

Ottawa has also signed two players to professional try-outs (PTOs), with centre Derick Brassard and left wing Michael Dal Colle entering the fold earlier this week. If either earns a contract, they will further complicate Smith’s whiteboard.

After the Brassard announcement, Dorion said: “I would say we have four centres pencilled in and having a healthy competition in that position is something that we always look forward to. He’s going to come in and play exhibition games at centre to see what he’s got left” (from ‘Senators bring back veteran Derick Brassard on a professional tryout’, Ottawa Sun, 09/16/22).

However, with Brassard and Dal Colle still on the outside looking in, the Senators are projected to ice the following lines on opening night according to Daily Faceoff.

Brady TkachukJosh NorrisDrake Batherson
Alex DeBrincatTim StützleClaude Giroux
Alex FormentonShane PintoMathieu Joseph
Tyler MotteDylan GambrellAustin Watson

It has been a while since Ottawa’s depth has jumped off the page. Although the arrival of Motte will make Smith’s player management trickier to navigate, the Senators will benefit in the long run from having coverage for injuries.

Motte Provides Cheap Penalty Killing Prowess

Motte was stranded on a Vancouver squad that spent most of last season spinning deeper and deeper into mediocrity. He was deployed mainly as a depth forward, producing 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 49 appearances for the Canucks. However, the Port Huron-born forward’s form improved once Bruce Boudreau came on board and boomed after his trade to the Rangers, for whom he posted a 56.3 percent share of expected goals.

Motte won’t produce dominant offensive performances in Ottawa, it just isn’t his specialty. But he offers plenty of penalty-killing intelligence and bottom-six zip at a low price.

Tyler Motte Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Motte, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Tyler is a tenacious checker who plays the game with pace,” said general manager Dorion. “He’s a strong penalty killer and another competitive person who adds to the depth of our group.”

If the Senators are contesting important games in the spring, Motte will be expected to play a crucial role. His arrival is the kind that elevates a team into the playoff picture.

Senators Will Benefit From Motte’s Signing

Soon, preseason question marks surrounding the Senators will be washed away. Smith will set his lines, the campaign will begin in earnest, and Ottawa will benefit from Motte’s arrival wherever he is in the lineup.

His likeliest home will be alongside Dylan Gambrell and Austin Watson, but he could figure on the third line if the coaching staff wants to ice a more defensively-minded unit in tough road games. Ultimately, the 27-year-old’s core assignment is to bring energy to the bottom six, tilting the ice in his team’s favour while restricting scoring chances the other way.

Motte’s most productive season came in 2018-19 when he produced 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 74 appearances for the Canucks. He recorded five points (four goals, one assist) in the playoffs one year later. If the former University of Michigan star posts similar numbers and continues to excel defensively next season, he will prove to be an excellent signing for Ottawa.

Senators Training Camp is Just Around the Corner

Ottawa’s stars will return to the ice for their first game of the preseason on Sept. 24, with the Senators travelling to the Scotiabank Arena for a matinee meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Seven exhibition games and almost three weeks later, their season will start on the road versus the Buffalo Sabres. Until then, make sure you stay up to date with the latest analysis from The Hockey Writers.

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