In what is becoming an annual tradition, the New York Rangers have once again acquired depth winger Tyler Motte ahead of the trade deadline. This time, the Blueshirts picked him up from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Julien Gauthier and a conditional 2023 seventh-round draft pick, after acquiring him from the Vancouver Canucks for a fourth-round pick on deadline day last season.
MOTTER SZN RETURNS pic.twitter.com/JXe8C4tsTg— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 19, 2023
Trade announcement: The #Sens have acquired forward Julien Gauthier and a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2023 from the @NYRangers in exchange for forward Tyler Motte. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/rTXRCUWUH1— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 19, 2023
The condition on the seventh-round pick is that it becomes a sixth-round pick — the lower of the Rangers’ own 2023 sixth-round pick and the Jets’ sixth-round pick, as the Rangers own both.
Motte suffered an injury not long after the Rangers acquired him last season, and thus only played in nine regular-season games and 15 playoff games for the team. In that time, he scored only two goals. However, his speed and tenacity added a much-needed element to the fourth line, in addition to making him a fan favorite along with his overall likability.
Motte will also give the Rangers another strong option on the penalty kill, which has struggled a bit as of late, ranking only 21st in the league since the All-Star break.
In 38 games this season with the Senators, Motte tallied three goals and six assists. Again, though, the Rangers are not acquiring him for scoring. Despite having less-than-stellar underlying impacts with Ottawa as well, the Rangers are obviously familiar with Motte, and have plenty of reason to believe the 27-year-old will have a similarly positive impact in his second stint with the club.
The draft pick compensation is not significant, but the Rangers are parting with a somewhat intriguing player in Gauthier. While Motte definitely is a better fit for a prototypical fourth-line, defensive role, Gauthier has played perhaps his best NHL hockey ever this season, tallying six goals and three assists. That said, he was stuck on the fourth line, and his skill set is not really a match for what Gerard Gallant and the Rangers seem to value out of that spot. Gauthier is also a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights, while Motte is set to become an unrestricted free agent once again.
After acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues, the fourth line appeared to be the one remaining area where the Rangers could use an upgrade. Motte helps in that regard, but there is still room for improvement since Motte will be replacing a lineup regular in Gauthier. In moving out Gauthier’s cap hit of $800,000 to partially offset some of Motte’s $1.35 million, the Rangers still have room for another minor move before the March 3 trade deadline.
The glaring spot is the fourth-line center position, which is currently being held down by the ineffective Jake Leschyshyn. Per CapFriendly, the Rangers project to have a little over $900,000 in deadline cap space, so there’s theoretically room to add another player for that role, especially if some more salary is moved out. For now, though, the Rangers’ roster is looking a bit more complete.