Should The Canucks Trade or Re-sign Motte?

By: Trent Leith / January 20, 2022  

Tyler Motte represents the kind of depth that every strong NHL team needs. But in the flat cap era, it’s the kind of depth that no team wants to pay a fair price for. With Motte’s two-year $1.225M deal set to expire at the end of the season, the 26-year-old winger is likely going to be looking for a payday. That is something the Canucks should be hesitant to oblige. 

Motte, Just Another Depth Guy

Tyler Motte was acquired by the Canucks in February of 2018, as part of the return for expiring UFA, Thomas Vanek. Vanek only signed with the Canucks for a single year, but put up 41 points, including 17 goals. He also quickly became a fan favourite for his work with then-rookie, Brock Boeser. 

Boeser and Vanek had immediate chemistry and played well on a line together, but when it came time to decide if they should hold onto Vanek or trade him for assets, GM Jim Benning made the right call and let him go. In that trade, a new soon-to-be fan favourite came to town, Tyler Motte. 

Motte has done a lot to become a fan favourite, including becoming an advocate for mental health, sharing his story and encouraging others who may also struggle with mental health. Motte has struggled with anxiety and depression but has been outspoken and encouraging others to seek help. An important part of his message has been empowering people to understand that if they struggle with mental health, it’s not weakness. 

Motte once even joined the local legends over at The Broadscast on their podcast. His popularity sparked their Motte Girl Summer merch line, which raises money for mental health initiatives in BC and Michigan.

Motte doesn’t put up a lot of points, but he is one of the hardest working players the Canucks have night in and night out. His team-high production was 16 points in 74 games in 2018-19. Don’t let his low point totals fool you though, he has missed a lot of time due to injury, outside of his 74 game season, the next most games played in one season is 34 in 2019-20. 

Motte had his best points-earning season with the Canucks last season in the Canadian Division earning 0.375 points per game, which isn’t bad for a fourth-line player, and he is hovering around that pace again this season. Motte also put up five points in 17 games in the playoffs in 2019-20 proving he can be relied upon in the postseason.

Motte is an undersized forward (5’10) but his size is made up for in speed, he is one of the faster players any time he is on the ice, and that speed is what has made him such a good penalty killer and forechecker. All this to say, should the Canucks keep Motte, or try and trade him? 

But At What Cost?

Motte is going to be looking at a pay raise, he is in his second of two very strong years as an everyday depth player. Reports are that Motte may be looking at something in the neighbourhood of $2.6M a season according to Rick Dhaliwal. That is more than double what he is making now, and puts him right in the ballpark of Jason Dickinson. 

Dickinson was signed to a three-year $2.65M deal over the summer, and it’s looking like a poor signing to date. Dickinson was signed to be the third-line centre but has bounced in and out of the centre position and up and down from the third to the fourth line. Dickinson’s shortcomings make him a direct comparable to Tyler Motte, and that is not the kind of leverage the Canucks are looking for before negotiations.

If the Dickinson deal is an accurate framing of the Motte contract to come, it’s a little rich for this Canucks team. That is not to say he doesn’t deserve that kind of money, but Motte no longer becomes a bargain of a player like he is now if he more than doubles his contract.

How Much is that Fourth-Liner in the Window?

If the Canucks are not going to be able to keep Motte under contract, it’s only logical that the team try and move him before the deadline. It’s how Motte joined the organization, it’s only fitting that be how he leaves too. It’s like poetry, they rhyme. 

Motte likely won’t fetch a first-round pick, but anything is possible with Trader Jim calling the shots. Barclay Goodrow fetched Tampa’s first-round pick in 2020 and that season he had only 0.05 more points-per-game than Motte has to this point in the season. Granted, Goodrow had an extra year on his deal and has size on Motte. A first might be a little too much to hope for in exchange for Motte, but a second or a prospect might be more realistic.

A best-case scenario, albeit unlikely, would be to trade Motte to a contender before the deadline, and have the Canucks hope they can circle back and pick him up in free agency for another team-friendly deal. After all, Rutherford did say the Canucks need more speed, and Motte fits that bill. 

Unfortunately, what’s most likely happening here is that we’re seeing the final days of the #MotteGirlSummer movement here in Vancouver. So enjoy it folks, and let’s hope that if a trade comes, we get the next fan favourite coming back this way.