What a difference the past year has made for Tyler Motte. A fringe prospect following an underwhelming two years to start his time at the University of Michigan, Motte blew up with a monster performance as a junior that earned him a spot on Team USA and an entry-level contract from the Blackhawks. Now getting ready to compete for a big role on Chicago this season, Motte has become one of the biggest intrigues in the organization. Just how good is this kid? We're going to find out soon.
Position: Left wing
Birth date: March 10, 1995
Acquired via: Fourth round pick (No. 121 overall) in 2013 NHL Draft
Most recent stop: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Size: 5'9, 188 pounds
Contract: ELC ($925K cap hit, expires in 2019)
Motte has broken out in a big way over the past year. He failed to impress during his first two seasons at Michigan, but it all came together on a line with top prospect Kyle Connor last season. That effort earned Motte a spot on the U.S. team for the World Junior Championship, where the winger only added to the hype. He's been trending upward for a while now, to be brief.
Even the Blackhawks were surprised by how much progress Motte made over the past 12 months. The success, not only at Michigan but at the WJC and in a brief stint with Rockford, has everyone a bit excited. Here's what assistant GM Norm Maciver said about Motte over the summer:
"He had an outstanding season at Michigan," Maciver said. "I got an opportunity to see him play a few times. He was just a very, very dangerous offensive player. Their line was probably one of the top two or three lines in college hockey that he was on at Michigan. Certainly he was a big, big part of that line. He just had an outstanding season that carried over with him when he went to Rockford. He played very well in Rockford. He also played very well in the World Championships which was evidenced by the amount of ice time he was getting in very important games for Team USA."
Motte is the kind of player who could immediately make the Blackhawks faster, something you know they appreciate. He's already an above-average skater (who might grade even better than that) and he took a big step forward with his puck skills as a junior. There's also that delightful compliment that he "plays with pace," as ESPN's Corey Pronman said in his write-up of the team.
For a team that likes to get the puck up in transition to challenge defenses, Motte could be a dangerous weapon. He may still need some seasoning in the AHL before he's ready to make a real dent in Chicago, but the good word that's been spreading over the past year is no fluke.
What's next in 2016-17
Motte will be in training camp competing for one of the Blackhawks' many open forward spots. There's a decent chance he earns a place from Day 1, although his lack of experience makes it possible some extra time in Rockford could help him. Mastering the Hawks' system can take some time, so we'll have to see where Motte is at once camp opens later this month. With so many holes on the NHL roster, Motte should have a very good opportunity this season, and based on his development over the past year, there's a real possibility he's ready to step up.
Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 8: Tyler Motte
No. 9: John Hayden
No. 10: Mark McNeill
No. 11: Fredrik Olofsson
No. 12: Chad Krys
No. 13: Erik Gustafsson
No. 14: Luke Johnson
No. 15: Tanner Kero
No. 16: Artur Kayumov
No. 17: Carl Dahlstrom
No. 18: Dennis Gilbert
No. 19: Luc Snuggerud
No. 20: Robin Norell
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson