The Vancouver Canucks had two restricted free agents left to sign this summer, Jake Virtanen and Troy Stecher. The latter was eligible to file for player-elected salary arbitration, and had a hearing scheduled for July 29th with an arbitrator in Toronto. That meeting will never happen though, as Stecher has signed a two-year contract with the Canucks that will carry an average annual value of $2.325MM. GM Jim Benning had this to say about his young defenseman:
Troy Stecher is an important part of our team. 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.
Coming out of the University of North Dakota in 2016, it didn’t take long for the undrafted defenseman to make a name for himself in Vancouver. As a rookie in 2016-17 he recorded 24 points in 71 games, the best mark of any Vancouver defenseman. He also logged 20 minutes a night that season, and though that dropped slightly in 2017-18 he’s still obviously a big part of the team going forward. With more veteran players like Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev getting closer to unrestricted free agency, Stecher will likely take his place alongside Olli Juolevi, Quinn Hughes and other up-and-coming Vancouver defensemen.
Just 24 years old, Stecher will still be a restricted free agent at the end of this contract and looking for a long-term deal. At that point he will have four years of NHL action under his belt and just one year of RFA status remaining, leaving the Canucks to make a decision on whether he fits into their plans going forward. For now though he should continue to take on more and more responsibility for Vancouver as they transition their young players into more prominent roles. For a team who just a few years ago looked like it was floundering without much of a direction, Vancouver has built up quite the young core to move forward with and Stecher is a big part of that.
Amazingly, Stecher’s $2.325MM cap hit actually makes him the sixth-highest paid defenseman on the Canucks roster, a good value for the production he brings on the ice. Though his point total dropped to just 11 this season after being removed from the powerplay unit, he still posted good possession statistics and proved he could be a fine option on a second or third pairing in the NHL. One could expect that offensive production to rebound somewhat, but for such a relatively inexpensive contract it doesn’t even have to.