During the 2022 NHL offseason, the New York Rangers had several difficult decisions to make regarding the pending free agents on the roster that helped get the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It turned out that most of the trades that general manager Chris Drury had made months before became rentals while the team focused on one key free agent and smaller depth players. The 2022-23 season hasn’t even come to a close and Drury seems aware and ready to right one of the key wrongs from those offseason decisions.
New York announced Sunday afternoon that the team agreed to a trade for former fan favorite Tyler Motte in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick and Julien Gauthier.
The move comes in the midst of the Rangers on a nine-game point streak that has vaulted them into the conversation as genuine contenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With Vladimir Tarasenko, a previous trade acquisition from a week ago, solidifying the Rangers’ offense, the need for a hard-nosed, penalty-killing fourth-line forward was next on Drury’s list of improvements. Luckily for the team, their relationship with Motte from last season was the perfect place to look for improvements.
Motte played in nine games for the Rangers last season and did not record a point during the regular season. The right-winger suffered a shoulder injury early in his tenure with the team. In the postseason though, he tallied two goals and had his mere presence be a key reason for the Blueshirts advancing as far as they went.
A large contingent of the Ranger faithful hoped that the team would be able to keep Motte after the 2021-22 season concluded but the team instead decided on Ryan Carpenter as the fourth-line addition. Motte later then signed a deal with Ottawa and has recorded nine points in 38 games with the Senators.
Chris Drury bringing back Motte is the clearest form of righting a wrong while still allowing the team to remain flexible as the trade deadline draws closer.
The Rangers currently have about $900,000 remaining in cap space with a potential trade of Vitali Kravtsov expected to be moved and increase the total to over $1.75 according to Vince Mercogliano of SNY.
In short, the Rangers aren’t expected to be done before the March 3rd deadline rolls around. They still have cap space available for the team to take advantage of and a need for a fourth-line center. For a team that has been setting team records on offensive production, the need for defensive-minded, and gritty players like Tyler Motte was a piece that the team sorely missed over the last few months.
It may have taken a few extra months, but Tyler Motte is back and the Rangers have righted arguably the biggest wrong of their offseason.