Chicago Blackhawks: Did We Give Up On Tyler Motte Too Soon?

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Tyler Motte
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 30: Tyler Motte /

Underneath the headlines of the Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad blockbuster trade between the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets was Tyler Motte, a gem waiting to be polished

Last month the Blackhawks made an unexpected trade.

Their two time 30 goal scorer Artemi Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Blackhawk forward Brandon Saad.  The full details of the deal sent Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a 2017 6th round pick to Columbus in exchange for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 5th round pick.

The Blue Jackets released a video last week of GM Jarmo Kekalainen talking about their excitement for the addition of Motte:

As Kekalainen mentions in the video, Motte was on one of the most dynamic lines in college hockey in 2015-16.  He, Kyle Connor(WPG), and JT Compher(COL) combined for 190 points in 38 games.  Motte individually scored 32 goals and 24 assists for the Michigan Wolverines.

The Blackhawks selected Motte in the 4th round of the 2014 draft.  He signed pro in 2015-16 at the end of his third year at Michigan joining the Blackhawks AHL affiliate the Rockford Ice Hogs.  There he scored 5 points in 5 games.

Motte split 2016-17 in Chicago and Rockford where he underperformed.  With only 7 points in 33 games, the Blackhawks sent him down to Rockford to develop, but he only tallied 16 points in 43 games with a plus/minus of -19.

After battling a couple injuries, Motte never seemed to get back on track with the ‘Hawks plans for him.  He spent a lot of time killing penalties and playing bottom six minutes which is another mystery to the Blackhawks development strategy.  Forwards like Teuvo Teravainen and Nick Schmaltz are top six forwards who were forced to “do their time” in the AHL and play in bottom six situations.  A player like Motte did what he had to do to get minutes in the NHL, but it’s clear from his skill set that he’s capable of much more than just clearing pucks.

Motte will be playing with former Michigan Wolverine Zach Werenski who played on the same team with Motte, Connor, and Compher.  The Blue Jackets had an outstanding year in 2016-17 with coach of the year John Tortorella and Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky so he will have an opportunity to succeed there.  Motte will be competeing for a roster spot with several talented young forwards, but hopefully he can find that gear that highlighted him as one of the best players in college hockey in 2015.

Upper Deck posted a video on YouTube of Tyler Motte signing autographs for Blackhawks fans AFTER he was traded.  The signing was scheduled ahead of time, but kudos to him for keeping his word and to all the Blackhawks fans that came out in support!