In an unexpected move over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Lightning had to terminate the contract for Josh Archibald after he informed the club he was stepping away from hockey for now due to personal reasons.
In a subsequent move, the club signed free agent Tyler Motte to fill his roster spot.
How will the career journeyman with seven seasons of NHL experience fit in with his squad?
Tampa Bay Lightning: Out here grinding
Motte’s baseline numbers don’t scream out anything exciting. He had eight goals last season in 62 games played and 43 career goals in 331 games.
Presumably, Motte will slot in on the fourth line with Luke Glendening and potentially Mikey Eyssimont, though training camp will sort that out.
Where Archibald was more of a physical forward with 195 hits last season, Motte is more of a grinder who doesn’t hit as much. He was credited with just 118 hits last season.
He was traded from Ottawa to New York at the trade deadline and was paired up with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey in the playoffs. Their line scored one goal and gave up one goal during their first-round defeat. Their underlying numbers as a unit weren’t great, losing the possession battle with a Corsi of 46% and giving up eight rush attempts over the series while only generating two of their own.
They also gave up 29 scoring chances while only generating 13 in that series.
The real strength for Motte is his ability to draw penalties and a potentially streaky shot that can get goals in bunches if he is running hot.
Last year, Motte drew 20 penalties from the opposition, good for top 100 in the NHL despite only playing fourth-line minutes and only playing in 62 games.
He also has three extended stretches in his career where his shooting percentage was above 10%. During his stint with New York last season after being traded, Motte had a shooting percentage of 12% and scored five goals in 24 regular season games prior to the playoffs.
If he can keep that pace for an entire season, he could reach 15 goals.
Ultimately, Motte is a competent fourth-liner who will pop up from time to time with some highlights while quietly doing the dirty work while the stars for the Lightning get rest.