In three short years, Troy Stecher has become a valued member of the Vancouver Canucks. His hard work, determination, and positive attitude have also made him a fan favourite. Let’s take a look at how Stecher became one of the leaders of the exciting new core that the Canucks will be bringing into the next decade.
Stecher in the British Columbia Hockey League
The journey began in 2010 when Stecher joined the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. He would play three seasons in Penticton, where he became a key defenseman for head coach Fred Harbinson. His best season came in 2012-13 when he put up 47 points in 52 games. This coincided with the Vees putting together an incredible 42-game win streak and a dominant 54-4-2 record. Harbinson credited Stecher as one of the key leaders during that streak. He would end up finishing his BCHL career with 109 points in 159 games.
Stecher’s Days in North Dakota
After three very productive years in the BCHL, Stecher would attend the University of North Dakota. His career started out slow, as he only put up 24 points in his first two seasons. Despite his low point totals and age, head coach Dave Hakstol considered him an important leader on the team. Stecher’s hard work, determination and ability to hold teammates accountable made him a respected figure in North Dakota’s locker room. What was surprising to many was his ability to do this as a freshman.
Fast forward to senior year. This was when it all took off for Stecher.
As if on cue, he would rise to the occasion and perform when the lights were the brightest. Becoming a veteran leader would only add fuel to the fire already burning within him, as he put up more points than his first two seasons combined.
“He’s a great personality. Much like he is on the ice. I think what you see, is what you get. He says what’s on his mind. Yet, he’s thoughtful about it. Energy wise, he’s become a leader for our team as a freshman, because he always goes out and competes.” – Dave Hakstol
Not surprisingly, the rise to stardom also coincided with Brock Boeser joining the team and having a record-breaking freshman season. The future Canucks would then join forces to lead North Dakota to its first championship since 2000, defeating Quinnipiac University 5–1 in the final game. Senior year will forever be etched in Stecher’s mind as one of the greatest years of his life. That is unless he wins the Stanley Cup of course.
Stecher Joins the Vancouver Canucks
After years of hard work and determination, the childhood dream would finally be realized. On April 13, 2016, Stecher would sign a two-year entry-level deal with the Canucks. After being overlooked by 30 teams in the draft, the Richmond native would be signing with his hometown NHL team. Talk about a dream come true on two fronts.
“When I was a little kid I dreamed about playing for the Canucks.” -Troy StecherFrom ‘North Dakota Free Agent Troy Stecher “Dreamed About Playing for Canucks”,’ The Globe and Mail, 04/04/16
Stecher would attend training camp and be one of the last cuts, despite playing well enough to earn a spot. However, an injury to Chris Tanev would get him a call-up, after just four games in the American Hockey League. Stecher would play his first National Hockey League game against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 25, 2016, becoming the first Richmond born and raised player to suit up for the hometown Canucks. Surprisingly, he did not play sheltered minutes, as most rookies do in their first NHL game.
Because of the injury to Tanev, he ended up playing on the top pair with Alex Edler. By the end of the night, he had played nearly 23 minutes, all at even strength.
The impressive thing was that he did not look out of place playing against NHL talent. The Canucks would end up losing the game, but fans were treated to the beginning of a journey that started just 35 minutes away in nearby Richmond. Stecher would also be given third-star honors for his efforts in the game. Not bad for an NHL debut.
Stecher’s Present and Future With the Canucks
That first NHL game would begin a season in which Stecher would play 71 games and put up 24 points, a mark he has not hit since. Pretty impressive for an undrafted free agent not expected to make an impact on an NHL roster. He has continued to improve every season since then, moving further and further up the depth chart and becoming a part of the leadership group. This past season, he was given a lot of responsibility due to injuries again to Edler and Tanev. In vintage Stecher fashion, he rose to the occasion.
Playing primarily with Ben Hutton, Stecher had multiple games where he eclipsed 30 minutes of ice time. Head coach Travis Green began to realize what Harbinson and Hakstol had in Stecher. A player who gets bigger as the coals burn hotter. By the end of the season, he nearly matched the career high he set in his rookie campaign. These efforts would also catch the eye of Team Canada, as he got the call to represent his country at the World Championships.
Stecher is arguably one of the best defensemen the Canucks have on their roster. Now 25 years old, he will be tasked to lead the defense corps into the 2019-20 season. I have a funny feeling that he will thrive in the role. The future is definitely bright for the man they call Troy from Richmond.
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.