There’s a good chance that the Vancouver Canucks will lose either Chris Tanev or Troy Stecher this offseason. Here’s the case for keeping the latter.
With the 2019-20 NHL campaign on pause, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has more time to map out his offseason plan.
Now in his sixth season on the job, Benning has plenty of difficult decisions to make. Does he re-sign top goalie Jacob Markstrom, a pending UFA? Does he try to keep Tyler Toffoli, who’s been the perfect rental and fit on the top line?
And finally, do you choose Troy Stecher or Chris Tanev? Odds are, Benning will have to let one of them leave in free agency this offseason, given his tight cap situation. Tanev is a pending UFA, and Stecher will be an RFA.
There are cases to be made about keeping one over the other. For this article, we’ll look at the reasons as to why Benning should choose Stecher over Tanev, should it get to that point.
Stecher (26 next month) carries a modest $2.325 million cap hit, per CapFriendly. Given his ability to play top-four minutes, Stecher can expect to almost double his salary in 2019-20, whether it comes from Vancouver or someone else.
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You may recall his name popping up in the rumor mill ahead of the trade deadline, but Vancouver decided to retain Stecher, and he was playing perhaps his best hockey of the season prior to the season pause.
Stecher’s puck possession metrics in 2019-20 haven’t been spectacular by any means (a 48.2 Corsi For percentage), but he’s only a year removed from posting a career-high 50.5 Corsi For percentage.
And metrics don’t always tell the story. Stecher can still make game-changing plays with his smooth skating and puck-moving abilities.
He already has a career-high in goals with five, even though head coach Travis Green is giving him far less playing time (15:21 average time on ice compared to 19:55 last year).
I’d like to see Stecher get more top-four minutes next season. If the Canucks lose Tanev in free agency, that will open the door for Stecher.
None of Vancouver’s top blueline prospects are ready for the jump to the NHL next year. Benning isn’t going to be able to afford any of the top defencemen in this year’s free agent class, either. Both Jordie Benn and Alexander Edler are slated to hit free agency in 2021.
So why move on from a 26-year-old and capable top-four blueliner in favor of older and more injury-prone defencemen? Even if Tanev brings more to the table from a defensive standpoint, his inability to stay healthy suggests that he only has a couple of effective years left. He’s five years older than Stecher, too.
Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers are the only Vancouver blueliners signed long-term. And who knows when Jett Woo and Olli Juolevi will be ready for the NHL. The Canucks need a reliable and in-his-prime blueliner for the long haul. Stecher fits the bill.
Tanev may be better than Stecher right now. But the latter has more productive years left in him. Vancouver’s salary cap situation means they’re probably losing one of the two. Add everything up, and the Canucks have greater reason to choose Stecher, who’s more than deserving of a multi-year extension.