Photo Credit: © Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks Army Year in Review: Troy Stecher

I think most who follow the Canucks would have been willing to consider Troy Stecher’s first season in the organization a success had he finished it with a few NHL games under his belt. Safe to say Stecher had designs on something a little better.

Stecher, 23-years-old, forced his way onto a roster that hadn’t the space for him to play, for a coach who at times, it seemed, didn’t want him. When he finally got there, he was like a dog with his bone — completely unwilling to let go, even for a second.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, so much as the fight in the dog right? A generously listed 5’10”, Stecher held his own in a role usually reserved for the NHL’s alpha males.

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As Chris Tanev’s lower-body injuries opened a spot alongside Alexander Edler on the Canucks’ top pair, Stecher stepped into the void. It was baptism by fire. The pair played the toughest minutes of any Canucks’ defenders and, mostly, held their own. With Stecher and Edler on the ice, the Canucks controlled 48.8% of five-on-five shot attempts.

At a glance, it’s hard to tell who was the chief beneficiary of their relationship. I would tend to lean towards Edler, who has years of experience and a slight advantage in impacting Stecher’s ability to control play at even strength to his advantage.

Interestingly enough, if we’re to use DTMAboutHeart’s GAR (Goals Above Replacement) statistic, it shows the two as having an identical impact of an added three-and-a-half goals to the Canucks’ this season. A metric like GAR aims to act as a statistic which encompasses most everything a player does to provide a composite score of how many goals they add over a replacement level player over the course of the season.

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Regardless of who is the superior member of that pair, I think we shouldn’t lose track of how big a boon it is for the Canucks’ organization that we can even have this conversation. There’s a very real case for Stecher as one of if not the best defender on the Canucks’ blue line.

And for everything Stecher accomplished at even strength, he was a welcome revelation on a power play in desperate need of help from the back end. Of Stecher’s 24 points, eight were put up with the man advantage. The Canucks as a whole attempted more unblocked shot attempts with Stecher on the ice too, which suggests he had a positive impact on their ability to create sustained offence too.

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One area where Stecher struggled, perhaps unsurprisingly, is in the quality of shots the Canucks surrendered when he was on the ice. That his defensive GAR impact was relatively negative made me curious as to how a player with a positive overall impact could struggle so noticeably in this area.

As it turns out, the Canucks’ opponents effectively held a timeshare from the most dangerous parts of Vancouver’s defensive zone with the visitors changing hands from game-to-game but never leaving the suite vacant. Stecher’s going to need to find a way to limit opposition chances to take that next step.

That’s nitpicking, though. At this stage, we can say with a degree of confidence that Stecher can survive in a top pair role. This, just a year after the Canucks signed him for nought but the cost of his contract as an undrafted free agent.

  • Doodly Doot

    I can see him continue over the next years to get better and better while not taking much for granted. It will be interesting, as he develops his game, to see what he becomes.

  • Burnabybob

    Stecher’s emergence is a good point in favor of trading Tanev. They play a similar style of game.

    If I were Benning, I would have traded Tanev for a chance to pick Lilgegren. Next year, they draft Dahlin, Hughes, or Merkley, and their top 4 is set for the next 10 years.

    • Steamer

      Agree – would have moved Tanev for Liljegren if another player/pick included. Think Liljegren is going to be an all star.
      Very excited about Rasmus Dahlin – just an incredible player – will he go #1?

      • Pat Quinn Way

        Don’t get too carried away Steamer, your Petterssen pick will bing you down to earth soon enough when Glass and Villardi deliver for the Kings and Knights! As will failing to pick Nic Hague over Lind in the 2nd that you are ‘happy about’. Keep watching mate, you’ll see.

      • Burnabybob

        Hard to say when he will be taken. But he looks good. The ’18 draft looks better than this year’s, with several defensemen who could go in the top 10.

    • Killer Marmot

      The problem with trade proposals is that it takes two to tango. Benning might have made offers of Tanev for a first round draft pick, but was turned down.

    • Dan-gles

      How on earth do you figure Tanev and stretcher play a similar style of game??? Tanev plays a defensive defencemen role and stretcher put up 28 points in a rookie campaign. One is pretty small and the other 6’2″ and two hundred lbs. their advanced stats are very different. Did I just get sucked in to a pointless arguement?

  • Neil B

    The heat map alone, without any kind of accompanying deep dive into Stecher’s shot suppression stats, says that Stecher is not yet ready for top-pairing minutes at the NHL level. We have seen lots of promise in his game, but he’s just not at a first-pairing level yet. As a sheltered third, with PP minutes, he should have room to grow his game to the NHL-level.

    • Pat Quinn Way

      You usually talk b*llocks Neil but on this occasion you are bang on. Stetcher is a third pairing guy at best on a decent team and his lack of size was exposed on numerous occasions against the heavy hitters in the division and league last season. Not a PP QB either.

  • FireGillis

    Canucks defense pairings should be as follows:
    Tanev Juolevi
    Edler Stecher
    Hutton Gudbranson
    I think juolevi will step in and easily be our best defenseman next year

    • Bud Poile

      Olli is a lefty and has never played an NHL game.
      I’d like to see them put him with RH Stetcher to see if they can get more offense out of Troy.
      I’d also like to experiment with those two on the PP.

      • TD

        Yeah, but Tanev is a righty so that pairing works. Stecher may not be ready for first line minutes, but the Canucks don’t have lots of options. I doubt Juolevi will be ready for top 4 either, but I like him being protected by Tanev. Hutton and Gudbranson were a bit of a train wreck as a second pairing at the beginning of last year. Lets hope Hutton’s drop in play was a sophmore slump and Gudbranson is better after the surgery. In the end, we may have 3 pairings none of which are dominant, but all may be better than the average 3rd pairing.