Vancouver Canucks prospect defenseman Troy Stecher has been a pleasant surprise so far in training camp, but that doesn’t mean he gets to stay.
by Janik Beichler
October 2, 2016
The Vancouver Canucks‘ defense was all but set heading into training camp. Seven players are waiver-eligible, Ben Hutton is a lock despite waiver exemption, and Nikita Tryamkin has a European assignment clause. With that, at least one player needs to go to the American Hockey League through waivers no matter what.
But what about guys like Troy Stecher or Olli Juolevi?
Stecher was always a stretch to make the team out of camp. But in a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, he displayed the ability to distribute the puck and quarterback the power play, which makes him the kind of defenseman the Canucks have been craving for.
Nevertheless, he can’t make the NHL roster out of training camp. Well, he could. But the Canucks shouldn’t make that old mistake again.
Last season, the Canucks were in a very similar situation, as Hutton surprised everyone and cracked the roster in his first pro season. Vancouver had to make a decision and, after trading Adam Clendening to the Pittsburgh Penguins, they attempted to send Frank Corrado to the Utica Comets through waivers.
It didn’t work out. Corrado got claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canucks lost a 22-year-old right-shot defenseman for nothing.
When the season started, the Canucks had a decent D-group nonetheless. It was nothing special, but it was acceptable — until the injury bug started to bite.
Canucks blue liners Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis missed significant time with injuries, and they weren’t the only ones. Because of that, Vancouver was forced to play veterans like Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber in way more games than they should have. In addition, they iced Comets D-man Alex Biega in 51 games and Andrey Pedan in 13. Had they not signed Nikita Tryamkin late in the season, they might have had to bring Taylor Fedun in for more than just one game.
This time around, Vancouver’s D-group looks deeper and better, despite letting go of Hamhuis. But injuries will happen again, and the Canucks will be happy to have several backup plans.
If they waive Pedan and Biega and lose one or both of them, they could struggle mightily once injuries happen — and injuries will happen.
The easiest solution to the problem would be to leave Stecher in the AHL as an injury call up — he would be back soon enough. That way, the Canucks could keep eight defensemen on their roster and would only be forced to waive one of Pedan and Biega.
If they ended up keeping Stecher and waiving both Pedan and Biega, and both got claimed, they would have to use guys like Jordan Subban and Tom Nilsson as their first call ups.
Stecher is having a strong preseason, which is great to see. But that doesn’t guarantee a roster spot — unless the Canucks haven’t learned from last season.