It may take a third party to decide the size of Troy Stecher’s paycheque next season, as the Canucks defenceman filed for salary arbitration on Thursday.
Stecher, 24, signed his first NHL contract two years ago, meaning he needed just two years of pro experience to qualify for arbitration. A restricted free agent, his last contract paid him $925,000.
The Canucks and Stecher are able to sign a new contract up until the arbitrator’s final decision, which will be scheduled for sometime in the coming weeks. If the team is unhappy with the arbitrator’s decision, they can walk away from the contract and make the player an unrestricted free agent.
That’s not likely to happen with Stecher, who isn’t in line to hit a home run.
Stecher has proven himself to be a reliable defenceman, particularly compared to the rest of the Canucks’ blueline, but had disappointing offensive numbers last season.
The Richmond native had just 11 points (1-10-11) in 68 games, a drop from his impressive 24-point (3-21-24) rookie season. His numbers were hurt by fewer minutes on the power play, playing just 0:14 with the man advantage in 2017-18, compared to 2:43 under Willie Desjardins.
The 5-foot-10 defenceman was low in new head coach Travis Green’s depth chart to begin the season, playing just 12:41 on opening night. But as the season wore on, Stecher began to gain the trust of the coach, regularly seeing 20+ minutes per night after December.
It’ll be interesting to see where Stecher slots in, cap-wise. Ben Hutton signed a two-year contract extension worth $2.8 million per season on the heels of a 25-point rookie season – one comparable to Stecher’s first year. Derrick Pouliot is coming off a 22-point season, but re-signed last week for just $1.1 million on a one-year deal.
Expect Stecher to squeeze in somewhere in between those two contracts.