The selection of Quinn Hughes at 7th overall by the Canucks has led to numerous discussions surrounding the future of the team’s blue line. Among these questions has been, obviously, that of size, as Hughes comes in at 5’10”. Many claim that, while his ceiling is high, the Canucks would do well to surround him with players of greater physical stature, leading some to claim Troy Stecher (of the same height as Hughes), may not be a fit going forward, due to him also being on the smaller side of the spectrum. However, this is a seemingly absurd analysis, as Stecher regularly presents as one of the Canucks’ most effective defenders, and should play a role in the franchise moving forward.
In his rookie campaign, Stecher demonstrated a degree of offensive potential. In 71 contests, he managed a very respectable 24 points (though of which only three were goals). That same year, he was voted by the fans as the team’s top defenceman. In doing, the now-24-year-old demonstrated strong skating ability, offensive instincts, and work ethic that showed strong potential for him to become an everyday top-four defender.
His second season, however, was not quite the same success from the outset. He scored just a single goal, and a total of eleven points, a notable step down from his rookie campaign. Indeed, to start the season, Stecher was hardly in head coach Travis Green’s good books, but played himself into a key role by the end of the year. This bodes well for projecting into the 2018-19 campaign, as he looks to carry such momentum into what could be possibly a season that finds him in a top-pairing role. Further, with the likes of Hughes and 2016 top five pick Olli Juolevi possibly making the opening night roster, he may look to take on a leadership role. Already an outspoken member of the club, his effort-based game and attitude will be key in rubbing off onto other, younger teammates.
Heading into the 2018-19 campaign, Stecher’s season will be an interesting one to follow. With the right side featuring the oft-injured Chris Tanev and the widely-maligned Erik Gudbranson, it is possible that he will serve as the team’s top right-shot defender. Further, look for Stecher to play a bigger role on the team’s power play, potentially even on the first unit. The distinct lack of offensive right-shot defencemen on the team means there is a chance Stecher is given a look with the likes of Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat on the top unit. Of course, this is not a guarantee, or perhaps even likely. The veteran Edler is likely the favorite for that position, and it’s possible that the young Hughes makes the team is slotted in as the power play quarterback. Nonetheless, Stecher’s skill set is suited to such responsibilities, and as such, it may be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on.
The lack of a long-term plan on defence for the Canucks has been well-documented, whether that be in regards to younger skaters already in the NHL, or future stars in the pipeline. However, it is not unreasonable to believe that Stecher could be part of a defensive core moving forward, and a major part of the rebuild.