GARRIOCH: Tyler Motte has made an immediate impact with the Ottawa Senators

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Tyler Motte wanted to find the right fit for his role.

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The 27-year-old winger had options after becoming a unrestricted free agent on July 13, but he also knew he had to be patient because players that perform Motte’s role aren’t always the top priority when the market opens.

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A week ago, Motte signed a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the Senators and judging by the early results we’ve seen in training camp he’ll be able to help this team. He played a key role in helping kill penalties in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader in Toronto and made his impact felt.

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Helping to protect the lead in the final minute of the club’s 4-2 victory over the Leafs Saturday night, Motte scored the empty-netter to seal the win. His game is as advertised and that’s what the Senators need if they’re going to compete for a playoff spot next spring.

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“I’m setting to settle in and get comfortable,” Motte said Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre. “I’m trying to learn on the fly here a little bit. I don’ think we’re getting over-coached right now. I think we’re just trying to play hockey and get back into the groove a little bit.

“I feel good out there right now. It felt good (Saturday) and it was good to get a real game under our belt. I just have to continue to learn.”

Players like Motte are an important part of any team. Motte is a guy who can help support the likes of Austin Watson in a penalty killing role.

Motte spent most of last season with the Vancouver Canucks and played a key role as a penalty killer along with trying to keep the opposition’s top line off the board.

“I love killing penalties. It’s probably my favourite part of the game,” said Motte, who was drafted No. 121 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. “I like that challenge and I take pride in it. Playing against top players is something I expect to do with a little bit of that shutdown role, be reliable defensively and play a good 200-foot game.”

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There’s a lot of work left to be done before the Senators open the season against the Buffalo Sabres on the road Oct. 13, but coach D.J. Smith has been pleased with what he’s seen from Motte so far. He played on a line with Shane Pinto and Mathieu Joseph against the Leafs.

They will be together again Tuesday night at the Canada Life Centre when the Senators face the Winnipeg Jets on the road.

“He’s a smart player who knows how to play the game and I think every coach loves a Tyler Motte,” Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s responsible. He’ll take the offence when it’s there but he knows what he gets paid for.”

Smith had several discussions with Motte about his role over the summer.

“For a guy like him being comfortable with the coach has a lot to do with it,” Smith said. “He takes a risk on coming on a one-year deal and he probably wants to know he’s in a comfortable situation. He’s earned that right.

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“When you’re recruiting a player like him you want to make sure you’re telling him exactly what his role is going to be so there’s no grey area when he gets here. He comes as advertised: He’s going to be guy we rely at the end of periods, end of games and you can see his smarts are going to allow him to create a bit more offence than he’s had.”


The Senators will have some difficult roster decisions and one of those will involve centre Mark Kastelic.

He finished second in the club’s fitness testing to centre Josh Norris and had a solid effort in Game 2 in Toronto. Kastelic played nearly 14 minutes and did his job with three shots on goal, including the game-winning goal in the third.

“It’s going to come right down to the end for (Katelic) and it’s a matter of how many minutes we can get him,” Smith said. “He’s going to play in the NHL, he’s too big, he’s too strong and his will is too good. You can see he’s got a presence out there. Guys, over time, aren’t going to enjoy playing against him.

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“It’s just about what’s best for his career? Is it right now? He’s certainly taken a step from a year ago. Is it going to be a month in? Two months in? Christmas time? The exhibition can’t give us the exact timetable but I think we’ve got a really good one in him.”

The Senators have done a good job developing their prospects the right way and Kastelic may just need a little more time.

“If he’s 28-years-old he’s on the team for sure. It’s what’s best for his long-term development,” said Smith. “What makes him the absolute best player for the Senators for 10 years? If we jump the gun and hurt his development that’s the risk we run.

“Ultimately, it’s (GM Pierre (Dorion’s) decision, but if (Kastelic) required waivers I don’t think we’d be able to take that risk.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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