The Vancouver Canucks struck gold when they won the sweepstakes to sign talented NCAA defenseman Troy Stecher back in 2016. As he prepares to head into his fourth NHL season, we look at what his long-term projection could be.
When the Vancouver Canucks signed then-22 year old Troy Stecher out of the University of North Dakota in 2016, it was considered a big step in turning the fortunes of the team around. Stecher had just quarterbacked the Fighting Hawks to a championship — alongside future Canucks team mate Brock Boeser — and was primed to take the first steps in his professional career.
Stecher made quite an impression on the organization from the off, playing 71 games in his rookie season and posting a very respectable 3-21-24. He gave us a reliable — and healthy — right-handed defenceman who could be used in all situations. While his sophomore season saw his offense dip to just one goal and ten assists, his steady defensive play was still evident.
Now coming off his third NHL season, where he became the Canucks’ go-to right-handed blueliner in the continued absence of former top dog Chris Tanev, Stecher’s offense returned and saw him contribute two goals and 21 assists in 78 games to finish second on the Canucks’ blueline in scoring, trailing only the team’s all-time scoring leader amongt defencemen, Alex Edler.
But what does the future hold for Troy from Richmond?
More from The Canuck Way
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
This summer ,he is enjoying a well-earned trip to Slovakia with Team Canada, playing important games in the 2019 World Championships. In Canada’s last game, Stecher scored a crucial goal to give Canada their first lead in an incredible game, his goal taking the score to 5-4.
When Canada came out the winner, 6-5, Stecher’s performance was roundly praised. All of a sudden, the quiet, unassuming young man has become an international star.
We have previously questioned whether Stecher is capable of taking the next step, building on his defensive credentials and adding more scoring to become a $5 million-plus defenceman rather than a $3 million depth defenceman.
Based on his performances in the season just ended, and on his strong World Championships so far, you wouldn’t bet against Stecher having a career year in 2019-20 in time for his next contract.
A lot will depend on how the Canucks approach the summer’s draft and free agency. If Edler re-signs, Jim Benning could stick with the current crop of blueliners and simply add former first-round pick Olli Juolevi to the mix. Canucks fans are crying out for a big free agent name to sign, but when the options are Jake Gardiner, Tyler Myers and Anton Stralman, sometimes it’s best to give opportunities in-house. The Canucks are not getting Erik Karlsson.
If Quinn Hughes is given his favored left-sided role, it’s easy to imagine a Canucks top four of Edler-Stecher, Hughes-Tanev. This would allow Stecher to continue to build on his offensive skills, while providing the modern-day equivalent of the Dan Hamhuis-Kevin Bieksa pairing that served the Canucks so well a decade ago.
Stecher has become an invaluable part of the Canucks’ blueline since he made his debut for the team back in 2016. His trademark solid defence, despite a relative lack of size, sees him go under the radar — but, just like Tanev before him, his value to the Canucks is greater on the ice than it would be via trade.
Stecher should be a part of the Canucks’ furniture for several years to come, and there’s a clear path to even bigger and better things for a player who always gives his all, and competes harder than most.