GARRIOCH: Tyler Motte had an immediate impact with the Ottawa Senators

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

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The 27-year-old winger had options after becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 13, but he also knew he had to be patient as players who play Motte aren’t always the top priority when opening of the market.

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

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Helping to secure the lead in the final minute of the club’s 4-2 win over the Leafs on Saturday night, Motte scored the empty goal 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 berth next spring.

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« I’m getting ready to settle in and feel comfortable, » Motte said Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre. “I try to learn a bit on the job here. I don’t think we’re over trained right now. I think we’re just trying to play some hockey and get back into the groove a bit.

“I feel good there right now. It felt good (Saturday) and it was good to have a real game under our belt. I just have to keep learning.

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 kill role.

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

« I love killing penalties. That’s probably my favorite part of the game, » said Motte, who was drafted 121st overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. « I’m proud. Playing against top players is something I expect to do with a bit of that stopping role, being reliable defensively and playing a good game from 200 feet.

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There’s a lot of work to do before the Senators open the season against the Buffalo Sabers on the road Oct. 13, but coach DJ Smith is happy 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 Center 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 responsible guy. He’ll take the offensive when it’s there, but he knows what he’s being 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 is taking a risk by accepting a one-year contract and he probably wants to know that he is in a comfortable situation. He has earned that right.

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« When you sign a player like him, you want to make sure you tell him exactly what his role will be so there’s no gray area when he comes here. He comes as advertised: He’s going to be a guy who we rely on at the end of periods, at the end of games and you can see that his intelligence is going to allow him to create a bit more attack than he had.


The Senators will have some tough decisions on the roster and one of them will involve center Marc Kastelic.

He finished second in the club’s fitness tests at the center Josh Norris and had a solid effort in Game 2 at Toronto. Kastelic played almost 14 minutes and did his job with three shots on goal, including the winning goal in the third.

« It’s going to go all the way for (Katelic) and it’s a matter of how many minutes we can have 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 has a presence there. Guys, over time, aren’t going to like playing against him.

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“That’s pretty much what’s best for his career? Is it right now? He certainly took a step forward a year ago. Will it be a month? In two months ? Christmas time? The exhibition can’t give us the exact schedule but I think we have a very good one in it.

The Senators have done a good job of developing their prospects in a good way and Kastelic could use a little more time.

« If he’s 28, he’s in the team, that’s for sure. That’s best for his long-term development, » Smith said. that makes him the Senators’ absolute best player in 10 years?If we take the leap and hurt his development, that’s the risk we run.

« At the end of the day, it’s the decision of (general manager Pierre (Dorion), but if (Kastelic) demanded waivers, I don’t think we would be able to take that risk. »

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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