The word of the day is “rumblings.”
On an appearance on the Halford and Brough show on TSN 1040, Bob McKenzie confirmed that he too has heard “rumblings” that the Canucks were exploring a Troy Stecher trade in the offseason.
“We’ve heard rumblings that Stecher’s not all that happy, we’ve heard rumblings that Stecher was a name that was in trade rumours this off season,” said Jason Brough.”Have you heard his name at all in trade rumours?”
“The same low rumble that you’ve heard,” replied McKenzie.
That’s all it took for Stecher trade rumours to be the topic du jour for Canucks fans across social media. The last time I heard a low rumble, all that happened was people looked at me funny and I had to explain that I skipped lunch.
Perhaps the trade rumours shouldn’t be surprising. After all, he’s in the final year of his contract and getting the lowest ice time of his career. At the same time, there are some easy counters to those ideas: Stecher is just 25 and will still be a restricted free agent at the end of his contract, so will still be under team control.
As for the ice time, it seems inevitable that the Canucks will have injuries on defence and Stecher will once again have to play big minutes for the Canucks and, also inevitably, prove himself worthy of those big minutes. It happens every season.
Chris Tanev, for instance, has never played more than 70 games in a season. Over the past three seasons, Tanev has missed an average of 32 games per season. Would the Canucks really want to make the gamble of trading Stecher and hoping against all odds that Tanev stays healthy?
Still, there are reasons why the Canucks might consider moving Stecher. Here are a few of them.
1 | The return is worth it
That’s the key to any trade, of course. The return has to be worth the price you pay. Of the Canucks currently on the roster, Stecher arguably has the highest trade value aside from the core four of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes. He’s on a reasonable contract for a top-four defenceman.
The counter from other teams, of course, will be that Stecher isn’t a top-four defenceman. After all, he’s not playing in the Canucks’ top four. That would make it tough to get full value for Stecher in a trade. If they can’t get the right return, Stecher’s more valuable on the Canucks than he is in a trade.
2 | They need the cap space
The Canucks shouldn’t be in a situation where cap space is a concern, but they’ve put themselves in a position where moving out Stecher’s $2.325 million contract and replace him with a cheaper defenceman makes sense.
Or does it? Really, the Canucks are not really in dire cap trouble. Even when Antoine Roussel returns from Long-Term Injured Reserve, the Canucks shouldn’t have any issues getting under the cap. Sure, moving Stecher would give the Canucks some additional flexibility, assuming they’re not bringing back other contracts in the process, but it’s not a needed move.
3 | They believe in the defensive depth behind him
If the Canucks traded Stecher, they would have to replace him in the lineup. If they’re serious about putting Stecher on the trade block, then they must have some impressive depth. Well, sort of.
On the right side on the Utica Comets, the Canucks have Brogan Rafferty, Jalen Chatfield, and Mitch Eliot. While I’m a big believer in Rafferty, I wouldn’t move Stecher to make room for him on the roster, and Chatfield and Eliot are both below Rafferty on the depth chart, in my opinion.
The only prospect that could conceivably push for a top-four spot on the right in the future is Jett Woo, and he’s still in the WHL for another season and will likely need some seasoning in the AHL before he’s ready to play for the big club.
4 | There’s only room for one short guy on defence
Quinn Hughes is 5’10”. Troy Stecher is 5’10”. Can’t have two guys that short on the same blue line.
I mean, other than the Boston Bruins, who went to the Stanley Cup Final last season with the 5’9” Matt Grzelcyk and Torey Krug on defence, and two more defencemen, Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer, who are 5’11”.
5 | He’s bad in the room (except he's not at all)
Stecher is great in the room. This is the guy that went and visited Brock Boeser during the summer, spending time with him while he was dealing with his dad's illness. Boeser described him as "one of [his] best friends." Stecher is a great presence in the room and well-liked by all his teammates.
Okay, that’s it, I’m out of reasons.
Honestly, the Canucks just got a decent defence corps and have had them for all of eight games. There’s still a chance the other analytical shoe will drop on Tyler Myers and Tanev is one puck to the face from missing a month of the season. Trading Stecher now wouldn’t make much sense.
In any case, all of this speculation is based on “low rumbles,” so let’s all stay calm.