The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed Troy Stecher, inking the 24-year-old Richmond native to a two-year contract worth $2.325 million per season.
By signing a deal now, both sides avoided arbitration, which was scheduled for July 29.
“Troy Stecher is an important part of our team,” said GM Jim Benning. “He’s a talented two-way defenseman who competes every shift. Troy has a willingness to always improve his game and is an example of a young player committed to being a professional.”
An undersized defenceman at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Stecher has been proving people wrong at every level of hockey.
A high-scoring blueliner with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL, he wasn’t drafted by an NHL team. Stecher played three years of college hockey with the University of North Dakota, where he caught the eye of the Canucks.
Signed to a free agent contract by Benning in 2016, Stecher didn’t make the team out of training camp that year, despite proving he deserved to in the preseason. He was called up soon after though, proving to be reliable defensively at the NHL level while adding 24 points in 71 games.
He had to reprove himself last year, with a different head coach in charge. Stecher began the season playing on a third pairing and didn’t receive any time on the power play or penalty kill. He didn’t receive more than 17 minutes of ice time during the first five games of the season.
But Stecher eventually won Travis Green over, showing that he could play bigger than his stature would suggest. He even got into his first career fight last year.
By the end of the season, Stecher had moved up the depth chart considerably, regularly playing over 20 minutes per night. He played under 19 minutes just once in the last 18 games of the season.
Stecher’s offensive numbers took a dip last season, scoring just one goal and 10 assists in 68 games. It’s something that he’s looking to improve upon, though it’ll be a challenge to get power play time this season.
The Canucks now have eight defencemen on their roster with NHL contracts, with Stecher slotting in behind Ben Hutton as the sixth-highest paid blueliner on the team. The Canucks, along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, are the only teams in the NHL currently paying six defencemen north of $2 million.
It remains to be seen where first-round draft pick Quinn Hughes will play to start next season, given that he has the option of turning pro. If he leaves college, it likely means one of the existing defencemen will be moved – either by trade or waivers – which could make training camp extra interesting.