From a pure statistical analysis, Tyler Motte did not move the needle all that much when he was traded to the New York Rangers in March for a fourth round pick.
In nine games during the regular season, Motte did not register a single point, and only scored two goals during the Rangers run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
So is it surprising that the 27 year old center has gone unsigned through the first week of NHL Free Agency? Should the Rangers use what little cap space they have left to sign the potential fourth liner?
CapFriendly has the Rangers with just $4 million in cap space. A potential extension for former second overall pick Kaapo Kakko is a large factor in the Rangers off-season plans.
With a multiple names like Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafrenière, and K’Andre Miller all needing extensions in 2023, it could mean the Rangers would let Motte walk in free agency as well for the future possibility of keeping their young core intact.
Rangers general manager Chris Drury has already spoken on the matter saying a Motte deal would be too tight to work around the cap.
While it appears unlikely the Rangers would look at bringing back Motte after the $750,000 deal awarded to Ryan Carpenter last week, there are still options for the Rangers, and Motte to come to terms on a deal.
What is Motte’s role on the Rangers?
With the Carpenter signing, Motte would have to play on the wing. In a strictly aggressive forecheck role, Motte’s physicality was a huge addition to the Rangers and a big reason why the team made as deep a playoff run as they did. New York’s offense predominately comes from its top lines that consist of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and now Trocheck.
But the fourth line on any team is important to set the tone for games and carry a physical presence that is able to make any top scoring team uncomfortable. A prime example of this is the New York Islanders fourth line.
When the Islanders made back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, a big reason was because of the fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. While not the same core of players now, the Islanders vaunted fourth line made life hell for many of the league’s top scorers. The group was not the most skilled, but their aggressiveness, physicality and determination made them a staple of Islanders hockey.
This isn’t to say that the Rangers should pair Carpenter and Barclay Goodrow with a physical player just because. But it is something to keep an eye on when it comes down to comparing the Rangers to some of the other great teams across the NHL.
Having a physical fourth line and combining that with some top offensive players in the front six allows for the Rangers to have one of the balanced attacks in the league.
Of course, bringing Motte back is highly contingent on being compliant in a hard cap league. New York has many difficult decisions to make over the next few years with their young core, and Motte coming back for a one year deal could stunt the growth of other young players who would have otherwise had a chance to get NHL experience.
It also doesn’t seem to be an accident that after a week of free agency, Tyler Motte is still unsigned. As the only free agent left from the 2021-22 Rangers without a deal with a team, Motte being unable to carve an offensive game in New York could be a major reason why.
But the way he plays the game could also be the perfect final piece to a Stanley Cup berth that the Rangers are all-in on now.
For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com