With Vancouver sitting in fifth place in the North Division and the top four teams from there getting into the playoffs, the Canucks aren’t quite ready to sell just yet. However, every team but Ottawa has multiple games in hand on them so while their current playoff gap of three points could be considerably larger by the time those are made up. Accordingly, teams are calling about some of Vancouver’s roster players and one of them is winger Tyler Motte, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports in his latest 31 Thoughts column.
On the one hand, it’s easy to see why there is interest in Motte around the league. He has shown more of a scoring touch this season with five goals in his first 16 games while logging over 16 minutes per night, a career-high. It certainly hasn’t come at the expense of his physicality either as he’s averaging 4.67 hits per game, the second-highest rate in the league. With a $1.225MM price tag this season and next, he’s also quite affordable.
It’s also not the first time he has shown flashes of offensive upside. Last year in the bubble, he picked up four goals in 17 games while averaging over 3.5 hits per game so while his early-season output is a bit of an outlier relative to his past regular season production, he also technically just picked up where he left off last summer.
But on the other hand, Motte hasn’t played in a month due to a high-ankle sprain and is currently on LTIR. Although he has resumed light skating, he’s still likely a couple of weeks away from returning.
It was only a few years ago that Motte felt like effectively the throw-in in a deal that sent Thomas Vanek to Columbus and Jussi Jokinen to Vancouver but now that he has established himself as a capable energy player, Jim Benning could be in a position to land a quality return, especially at a time when power forwards are in high demand and affordable players are at a premium. But first, they’ll have to choose if they’re buying or selling, a decision that is probably still a few weeks away.