Tyler Motte is no longer a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
This isn't particularly surprising. Motte was one of the few pending unrestricted free agents on the Canucks roster. With the Canucks in tough to make the playoffs, it was exceedingly likely that Motte would be moved.
What was surprising, perhaps, is the return in the trade. Motte went to the New York Rangers in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2023.
That's a disappointing return for a couple of reasons. One is that the pick is in 2023 rather than the upcoming draft, pushing the potential impact of the deal further into the future.
More importantly, it seemed like Motte would be worth a bit more heading into the trade deadline. Motte is the type of player that playoff teams crave — a gritty, fast, and hardworking winger, who is excellent on the penalty kill and can chip in a few goals in a depth role.
Motte turned some heads in his one playoff appearance with the Canucks, scoring 4 goals to go with his fantastic puck pursuit on the penalty kill and on the forecheck. With his speed and willingness to throw his body in front of shots, he should immediately win over fans in New York.
A fourth-round pick isn't a great return for Motte but it's better than letting him walk for nothing in free agency. Motte is due a raise from his current $1.225 million cap hit and the Canucks simply don't have the cap space available to spend $2+ million on fourth-line forwards. They're better served seeking out the next Motte.
Still, it's hard to see Motte go. Beyond just on the ice, where he never took a shift off and earned plaudits for his work ethic, Motte was a voice for mental health in Vancouver.
Motte was open about his own journey with mental health, telling his story of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression in hopes that he could help others.
"Even if I could just reach one person, if just one person could go see someone earlier than I did or if some person could talk to their family about it or ask themselves some tough questions, then it was worth it," said Motte.
As he opened up, Motte even found that he performed better on the ice.
"Once I started seeking help and being more open and accepting to my mental illness, I found that my game and my performance increased as well," said Motte. "I was able to turn my focus and my drive and energy back to hockey and my career, and other things in life too."
Motte had 7 goals and 15 points in 49 games this season and had a total of 28 goals and 50 points in his 196 games with the Canucks.
The Motte trade was the Canucks' only deal at the trade deadline. While rumours have swirled around other Canucks — J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Conor Garland, Luke Schenn, etc. — they're all under club control beyond this season, with no pressure for the Canucks to rush a move.
If the fourth-round pick that came back for Motte was indicative of the offers the Canucks were getting — incommensurate with the value of the player — then the Canucks were right to hold off. Any further deals can be made in the offseason, whether at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft or after free agency opens.