Often overlooked but a brave warrior the Canucks needed all along, Tyler Motte was the Fa Mulan of the Canucks this past season.
At first glance, Motte might not be your ideal hero as his advanced stats when 5-on-5 are rather lacklustre, but he is a reliable fourth-liner who brought consistent forechecking and sound defensive play night in and night out. His unmatched work ethic and defensive intelligence made him dominant on the penalty kill. He isn’t known for point production — he had just 4 goals and 1 assist in 34 games — and was cursed with injuries all year long, which caused him to miss 35 games. The effects of not having Tyler Motte in the lineup were felt throughout the 4th line and PK where he made his mark.
When Motte was in the lineup, his dominance on the penalty kill was reminiscent of Mulan vs the Huns in the snow. His zone exits and puck clearances were as clever as Mulan taking out the enemies with an avalanche. He had the second-lowest goals against on the kill behind only Troy Stecher. Motte’s play also significantly elevated his teammates’ performances on the PK. When Motte was on the ice, his teammates who had played 10 minutes or more with him gave up fewer shots, scoring chances and all had significantly higher expected goals for percentages, with the exception of Jordie Benn.
Motte led the Canucks forwards in blocked shots per 60 averaging 5.0 and was 2nd with 118 hits and 2.2 takeaways per 60 despite missing half the season. When he is absent from the lineup, the 4th line loses its consistency and can become an expensive liability in their own zone.
The latest Tyler Motte injury could be a bigger loss than seems.
4th line has been a mainstay Vancouver and has carried a shot attempt percentage well above 50% with Motte in the lineup.
It’s early yet, but so far that clip has dropped off significantly without him. #Canucks
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) October 27, 2019
He made his pricey 4th lines centre, Jay Beagle better across the board when they were playing together.
When the Canucks needed a hero in their playoff series against the Blues, Tyler Motte showed up, producing 4 goals including two 2 goal games that sent the Canucks into the second round. He defended his zone and Markstrom as if he were defending the Emperor and the Huns were coming to take the palace.
His penalty kill performance was on full display showing he is the epitome of consistency and he even added a shorthanded goal in the process. His speed and defensive prowess were on full display each game even when his teammates seemed to be missing a step. He led the team with 61 hits and led all Canucks forwards with 24 blocked shots, including a kick save stunner that came at a very opportune time. You know the one.
Sharing a story as personal as this is not an easy thing to do. @Tmotte_14 knows that.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 15, 2020
In January, Tyler Motte bravely opened up about his battle with depression. When a pro athlete uses their platform and opens up about their personal battle with mental health it inspires many others to do the seem or seek help. It is uplifting to know someone like Motte can have the same struggles as anyone with mental health issues. In a league like the NHL, where speaking out about issues can be seen as abnormal, this took an immense amount of strength and courage. He is a leader both on the ice and in the community.
Motte is everything the Canucks could want in a fourth liner. Possibly the best feature about a new deal for him on a team who is descending in to cap hades is he will come at a price they can afford. He is due for a new contract as an RFA with arbitration rights and this is a contract Jim Benning should be able to get done at a team friendly price, something that the Canucks desperately need and is a rarity with their current bottom six contracts.