As of this writing, it seems that fan favorite, Tyler Motte, won’t be re-signing with the Rangers before July 1st, which will make him an unrestricted free agent. This would be the second time in two years that the Rangers and Motte can’t come to an agreement and he walks into free agency. While the door isn’t shut on a possible reunion, Motte wants to test the market and see what’s available since this free agent class is lackluster and other teams might be willing to overpay for his services.
While his departure would leave a hole in the Rangers’ bottom six, it won’t be as bad as last season when he left because the Rangers already have a player under contract who plays a very similar game to Motte. That player is Jimmy Vesey.
Vesey returned to the Rangers last season on a professional try-out heading into training camp. He had been bouncing from team to team since he was traded from the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres in 2019. He had stints in Toronto, Vancouver, and New Jersey before he ended up back with the Rangers. Since he was last here, he evolved his game because he wasn’t performing like the player everyone thought he was going to be when he signed with the Rangers in 2016.
They thought he was going to be a scoring threat in the NHL, but that never turned out to be the case. His highest goal total in a season is 17 and he reached that in back-to-back seasons with the Rangers. Since then, he hasn’t been able to find that again and had to change his game if he wanted to stay in the NHL.
Instead of trying to become something he wasn’t, he became a reliable defensive forward. It was when he was with the Devils that this really began to show. He became a mainstay on their penalty kill and was one of their better defensive forwards, even though the team around him was bad. Vesey proved in training camp with the Rangers that he could be a reliable player for them in their bottom six.
He signed a one-year deal and was officially back in the city that he feels the most comfortable playing in. Vesey played extremely well this past season and was great in his role as a penalty killer and a fourth-line guy who wasn’t afraid to get dirty. When the Rangers added Motte again prior to the deadline, he was added to the fourth line with Vesey and Barclay Goodrow and they became one of the best fourth lines the Rangers have had in quite some time.
They played extremely well together and they were relied on to make the defensive plays when they needed to and they could also provide offense as well. With a Motte departure likely, the Rangers can fall back on what they had before and use Vesey in that role.
He had a great season and they liked him so much that they signed him to a two-year extension in January. He is comfortable in this role and the Rangers should not worry about having to bring Motte back when they have Vesey who plays the same style of game as Motte does.
While Motte has been great in his two different stints as a Ranger, they should not be focusing on him as much when they have other players to re-sign that have a more important role on this team going forward. If he wants to get his bag, let him make his money. The Rangers have Vesey who can fill that void and the Rangers can always sign another cheap player who also plays that game. Losing Motte is not the end of the world.