It’s hard not to love Tyler Motte. He’s a gentleman on and off the ice, he plays the game right, and he has that blue collar style that NY Rangers fans love. When news broke that he signed in Tampa Bay for just $800k, naturally there were some disappointed fans. The Rangers have surrendered assets for Motte at the trade deadline in two straight years, and while it’s unlikely to happen this year, it appeared to be a good match. So why did the Rangers pass on Tyler Motte?
Well for starters, Motte’s asking price when the summer started was $2 million, per Larry Brooks. That was well above what the Rangers were willing to pay.
Have been told by multiple sources that Motte’s asking price into free agency and much of the summer was $2M per.
Second consecutive offseason this useful fourth-liner misread the market and priced himself out of New York. https://t.co/gEckUD82SK
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) September 9, 2023
If we’ve learned anything, it’s that you shouldn’t overspend on fourth liners. The Rangers already did that with Barclay Goodrow, and many point to that contract as a reason why the Rangers are having some cap difficulty, so adding another $2 million at that point would have left the roster lopsided and unable to again fill out the depth.
For Motte’s $2 million, the Rangers would likely have been without two of Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick, Alex Belzile, and Blake Wheeler, plus they would have even less cap space to work with (about $1.3 million right now). Timing matters, and Motte priced himself out of New York for a second straight season by misreading the market early.
Bonino, Pitlick, and Belzile are all better
As much as it pains me to say, Motte took a step back with the Rangers this year.
The fourth line is meant to be a defensive role, and Motte has the worst defensive metrics of this quartet including Bonino, Pitlick, and Belzile. So the Rangers, at that point in time in July, upgraded from Motte with three players coming in under Motte’s $2 million ask at the time. And that doesn’t even include the possibility of Will Cuylle breaking camp with the Rangers.
Could the Rangers have waited out the market and re-signed Motte now, instead of one of Pitlick or Belzile? Sure, but that’s not a guarantee, and it ignores the better defensive metrics by both players.
Sometimes, you have to let people walk. Motte is a fantastic human, but the Rangers are better without him with the current roster. Better players for the expected role, more roster flexibility for midseason call ups, and more cap space in case a kid forces his way onto the roster.
All of this matters. Tyler Motte and the Rangers seem to be destined for trade deadline moves only.