The Vancouver Canucks have pared down their preseason roster once again, this time sending defenceman Troy Stecher and goaltender Richard Bachman to their AHL affiliate in Utica.
The Bachman move was expected, so let’s focus on Stecher.
The 22-year-old defenceman from Richmond quickly became the talk of the preseason for the Canucks after an impressive outing against the Oilers at home on September 28 where he notched a goal and two assists.
Assists to Stecher and Carcone on Gaunce's 1st of the pre-season. pic.twitter.com/CP5PJ2ouqf
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 29, 2016
The 5-foot-9 defenceman out of the University of North Dakota didn’t score again for the rest of the preseason, but he still impressed many – including the coaching staff – with his play.
Willie on Stecher: "He's made it so interesting for us," Told him on the ice today, "You weren't supposed to be here." #Canucks
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) October 5, 2016
Stecher appeared in four games, averaging 22:12 of ice time per game. He showed great mobility and offensive instincts. In the minds of many, he outperformed newcomer Philip Larsen, who the Canucks are said to be giving the keys to the power play to start the season.
But looking good in the preseason and being ready for the grind of the NHL are two different things. Just ask Fedor Fedorov and Sergei Shirokov about that.
Stecher didn’t have a perfect preseason by any means, and a bit of time in the AHL is the safe play with the Canucks’ new prospect defenceman.
Larsen still has a lot to prove at the NHL-level also, but management must have seen something they liked when they saw him in the KHL. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense to change your plans drastically based on less than a handful of preseason games.
The Canucks are expected to carry eight defencemen this season, meaning that two d-men will watch from the press box on a nightly basis if everyone stays healthy. It makes sense for that spot to go a veteran like Alex Biega, who doesn’t need the development as much as a young player.
The Canucks appear to be set on defence now, with just nine blueliners left on their main roster, one of them being the injured Tom Nilsson who will eventually report to Utica. The other eight defencemen remaining include: Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, Erik Gudbranson, Luca Sbisa, Philip Larsen, Nikita Tryamkin, and Biega.
Up front, the Canucks have 16 players still on their roster, meaning they’ll need to drop that number by three by Tuesday. Anton Rodin is banged up, while Tuomo Ruutu and Jack Skille are on PTOs. Players on the bubble include Jake Virtanen, Brendan Gaunce, and Emerson Etem.