Tyler Motte is getting a chance to win it all.
With the speedy, feisty and hard-hitting Vancouver Canucks left-winger moving to the New York Rangers at the National Hockey League trade deadline Monday for a fourth-round 2023 draft pick, it’s sort of a win-win for both franchises.
The Rangers get everything they could want in a fearless unrestricted free agent fourth-liner for a serious Stanley Cup playoff push. The Canucks get another draft pick for what is a better draft in 2023 because they are also in salary-cap management mode.
The Canucks didn’t want to offer Motte a sizeable raise on his expiring $US 1.225-million cap hit and US $1.45 million in actual salary.
Among Canucks forwards this season, the 27-year-old Motte was first in blocked shots (51), second in team hits (90), was on the first-pairing penalty kill with J.T. Miller and worked well in a shutdown role. He had 15 points in 49 games (7-8), 22 penalty minutes and is a former Masterton Trophy nominee.
With the clock ticking down to Monday’s noon (Pacific time) deadline, Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin was doing double duty in trying to sign Motte while finding out if there would be a greater trade return.
“It was a little bit of both I would say,” Allvin said at an afternoon news conference. “For myself, in talking to a lot of teams and feeling out with what they were thinking about our players, that’s where we wound up with the fourth-round pick. There were some teams checking in on him, but we felt the draft in 2023 was a little bit better. And when it was clear we couldn’t sign him, we had to maximize our return.
“The (draft pick) value gives us a little more ammunition if we want to do something and gives us time to check this draft (2022) out, if we want to move up, or another player becomes available.”
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If the Canucks had come close to a contract, Motte would have had leverage to possibly double his salary, with Sean Kuraly’s contract in Columbus being cited as a possible comparable.
Like Motte, the Blue Jackets’ bottom-six forward had never hit 10 goals in any NHL season, but now has 11 and plays an appreciated bump-and-grind game. At age 29, he has three years remaining at a US $2.5-million annual cap hit.
The Canucks have younger and cheaper roster options or prospects to promote. In the interim, they could supplant Motte from within, or give a winger like Will Lockwood, 23, a look along with defenceman Jack Rathbone, 22. Especially if the season continues to go south and the club needs to get a roster read on next season. Allvin believes that will likely occur.
Lockwood is checking a lot of boxes with the American Hockey League affiliate in Abbotsford with an up-tempo game that packs speed, edge and scoring potential. He has 24 points (9-15) in 45 games and is drawing rave reviews.
“Exciting guy for me and I would have him right up there in the top couple (prospects),” said Canucks senior director of player development Ryan Johnson, who doubles as general manager of the AHL affiliate. Lockwood has explosive speed and the ability to surprise opponents with his physical play.
“A fantastic human being. He’s got a bright future and has worked so hard on the PK part because a player like him has to be able to do it,” said Johnston.
As for Motte, he was true to his word and work ethic in advance of the trade deadline.
“I’ve always been a skater, worked hard and added some offence as the years have gone on,” he said. “I’m reliable and love to kill penalties. I try to show up every night to help the team win and sometimes it’s blocking a shot or potting a goal. It’s the same mindset every night. It’s business as usual.”
The Canucks also claimed former Vancouver centre Brad Richardson off waivers Monday from the Calgary Flames.
“With the injuries we had, we weren’t sure if we would be able to get players in return in some of the deals we were looking at,” said Allvin. “Brad is versatile and there’s the leadership he has and I thought it would help us short term here.”
Richardson is 37 and on an expiring deal at US $800,000, but could still bring some stiffness to a lineup that lacks consistency and push. He couldn’t crack a loaded Flames roster this season, played just 27 games and had four points (2-2). But he’s still hard to play against. In 2013-14, Richardson had 23 points (11-12) in 73 games, but gained the admiration of former Canucks coach John Tortorella, who labelled the Belleville, Ont., native “a whiskey drinker” for his hard play.
OVERTIME — Allvin said injured winger Nils Höglander (groin) is being evaluated and was uncertain whether the sophomore will be on a four-game road trip that opens Wednesday in Colorado. … Rookie winger Vasily Podkolzin has been made eligible for the AHL playoffs. “It’s important to be in that tougher environment, especially for Podkolzin being a first-year guy here,” said Allvin. “It’s critical for him to be more of a leader and play top minutes and first power play.” Podkolzin and veteran forward Nic Petan were assigned to AHL Abbotsford Monday morning and then recalled in the afternoon, beating the Noon PT deadline for AHL playoff roster eligibility. … AHL callups Noah Juulsen and Sheldon Rempal, who were healthy scratches this weekend, were re-assigned to Abbotsford.
NHL trade deadline as it happened: Canucks trade Tyler Motte to New York | Brad Richardson is a Canuck again | Hamonic to Ottawa
Canucks prospects tracker: Karlsson catches Petey, Klimovich channels Ovi
First Canucks trade dominoes fall with Travis Hamonic’s exit, Travis Dermott’s arrival
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