I like Troy Stecher as a player, and he seems to be a pretty good guy. He’s often reported to be a smart, thoughtful interview, and he is undeniably a legit top-6 NHL defenceman. I’d nominate him for the Jannik Hansen memorial “Frequently unsung hero” award.
Stecher is also a pending RFA with arbitrations rights, which makes him a tough call for the Canucks management, probably mostly for recently promoted AGM Chris Gear.
The problem with Stecher is that he’s earned a raise, but it’s hard to tell if the money he’s due is worth it to the playoff bound Canucks who are still building towards being legitimate contenders. Both Stecher and the Canucks are in a grey mushy middle and it’s hard to predict what a good fit between them would look like.
There’s not much talk yet about how much Troy from Richmond is likely to get in arbitration, but way back in November Harman Dayal, AKA “The Boy Genius” put together an excellent article in The Athletic (paywall) that suggests Stecher could well get about $3 Million on a one year deal in arbitration. BG’s research among league executives suggests that Stech is likely to be worth a 3rd round pick in a trade.
I have no reason to doubt that’s as good an estimate as can be made at this time, and that brings up the question: if that’s what Stecher is worth on the open market, is he worth that to the Canucks?
As with many things in life, the answer is surely: it depends.
It mostly depends on other players.
Personally I’d love to see the Canucks take a deep breath and sell high on Chris Tanev, but that’s very, very, very unlikely. At this point making the playoffs has got to be the absolute top priority for GM Jim Benning and a healthy Chris Tanev is essential to that objective. Tanev is one of the veteran voices in the room, on the road, and even at home in Vancouver for younger players where he’s reported to be something of a team Dad. As the steady and highly effective partner for future franchise defenceman Quinn Hughes, Tanev is not going anywhere this season. Any decision about re-signing him, or sign and trade, or trade his rights, will be done in the off season. Despite conventional wisdom, I don’t think this will have anything to do with Stecher. Tanev has cemented his spot as a top-3 defenceman. Stecher is not in the same tier as Tanev.
Tyler Myers is supposed to be a top 4 defenceman, and is arguably on the top pair with Alex Edler. He’s also recently signed for 5 years at $6M per year. He’s not going anywhere, and he’s going to play big minutes.
That leaves only the third pairing for Stech. Since he’s the only right shot remaining on the NHL roster that’s his spot unless there are injuries, and he’s performing well in that role. Stecher has shown in the past that he can play up the line-up when required, but clearly he is not seen as a permanent top-4 guy. The current #7 guy is Jordie Benn, who is a left shot that can play the right side, and at $2M per makes a little less than Stech’s $2.3M, and quite a bit less than the $3M/year it would likely cost to keep Stech.
So really, the main question is Brogan Rafferty.
On the left side of the defence GMJB and company have done a pretty good job building depth with reliable journeyman call-ups Ashton Sautner, and Guillaume Brisebois capable of third pair duty, and highly touted but injury prone Olli Juolevi waiting for next fall to break into the regular line-up.
On the right side of the defence things are a bit more interesting. I’m no prospect expert, but from what I can tell the reliable journeyman call up Jalen Chatfield is being pushed by college UFA signing Brogan Rafferty for the next spot on the team. If Rafferty is the real deal, his $700k ELC is going to be much better value for the team than a $3M Troy Stecher.
If any of the right side defence get injured, it will be interesting to see if Rafferty gets a chance to play in the NHL. If he shows well, I wonder if the Canucks will shop Stecher to another team who are in the dogfight for a wild-card spot. In the unlikely event the Canucks fall out of playoff contention in the next few weeks, that trade is also a possibility.
Far more likely, is that the Canucks look at where negotiations go this summer. If they are able to offer less money and more term and no one asks for arbitration it’s possible that Stecher remains as the versatile bottom 4 RHD that is an essential part of any contender. If Rafferty can step up into a regular spot on the 3rd pair, that makes it possible to say goodbye to Chris Tanev and Tanev’s likely expensive new contract. If Rafferty can not earn a spot, perhaps keeping Tanev is more important. That could mean a Stecher is too expensive and someone like Chatfield (or a PTO player) is on the third pair.
So friends: what do you think? Is Stecher worth keeping? Vote in our poll, and explain your take in the comments below.
Should the Canucks keep Troy Stecher?
This poll is closed
Yes! Sign him to a team friendly longer contract, ride him like a rented donkey, and expose him to Seattle
Well, OK. Pay the arbitration wage and keep him for a year while the Farm hands develop.
Just for now. Trade after the playoff hope dies.
No! Shop him now, get whatever you can so the Amateur Scouts get another lottery ticket at the draft.