Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25: #16 Troy Stecher

Apr 9, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston University forward Ahti Oksanen (2) and North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher (2) battle for the puck during the second period of a semifinal game in the men
Apr 9, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston University forward Ahti Oksanen (2) and North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher (2) battle for the puck during the second period of a semifinal game in the men /

The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!

If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?

To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.

No. 16 on our list is defenseman Troy Stecher, who was signed from the University of North Dakota this summer.

#16 – Troy Stecher

Age: 22

Position: Defenseman

Team: Utica Comets (AHL)

NHL Experience: 0 Games

How He Got Here

More from Canucks News

Troy Stecher is a smallish defenseman who took his time to develop. His first year of NHL draft eligibility was his second season with the BCHL Penticton Vees. The BCHL is becoming more and more important as a developmental league, featuring three 2016 NHL first-round picks in Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Dennis Cholowski, but you really have to be an elite talent to be considered by NHL teams. Stecher was not, and he stuck in the BCHL undrafted.

After three years with the Vees, Stecher took the next step in his career, by joining the University of North Dakota to play college hockey for one of the US’s top schools. There, Stecher developed into an extremely promising two-way player who should get a chance to play in the NHL very soon. In 278 career games in the BCHL and NCAA, Stecher had 31 goals and 162 points, while growing more and more responsible defensively.

One of the top NCAA free agents this year, Stecher was pursued by several NHL teams but decided to join his hometown Vancouver Canucks on a two-year, entry-level contract.

Where He Is Today

It is hard to say how far prospects are in their development and it doesn’t get much easier when players stay in college until their early twenties. Skaters tend to hit their prime at 24, so players like Stecher don’t have the same timetable as drafted 18-year-olds who can be brought along slowly. What that means is, we will find out how good Stecher is and what he can become very soon.

Stecher will most likely start the season with the Utica Comets but he will try everything he can to make the Canucks out of training camp. He has excellent vision, is very skilled and has great playmaking abilities, so he could definitely be an alternative to Philip Larsen for the right side of the third D-pairing. Stecher needs to outplay Larsen in camp to get there, but it isn’t impossible.  If he doesn’t, we will likely see him in a top-four role in Utica.

Where He’s Headed

The last NCAA defenseman who used to play for the Penticton Vees and signed in the NHL as a free agent was Mike Reilly. The 23-year-old signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2015 and started the season in the American Hockey League, but he also appeared in 29 NHL contests and is expected to be a regular for Minnesota in the upcoming season as well. That is likely (or hopefully?) similar to what we can expect from Stecher.

Next: Canucks Rumblings - Trades, Free Agency

When Justin Schultz signed with the Edmonton Oilers as an NCAA free agent, he also started in the AHL before moving up to the big league about halfway through the season. That just seems to be the way to go for players like Schultz, Reilly and Stecher.

If we see Stecher in the NHL around the 40-game mark, that would be an extremely good turnout. No one expects him to jump right in and make an impact, and if the Canucks got a future NHL player for free, that’s great no matter how soon he makes the show.