Photos by Russell Hons Photography and Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
Troy Stecher’s College Career
- 2016 NCAA Champion
- 2016 All-College Hockey News First Team
- 2016 All-America West Second Team
Troy Stecher was told he was undersized and didn’t play enough on the offensive end of the ice to play professional hockey. In April, he finished his second season in the NHL. The once overlooked North Dakota prospect from Richmond, British Columbia, reflects on his journey to the League and where he sees his future.
Troy Stecher hasn’t missed an NHL playoff game this spring. The Vancouver Canucks defenseman just wrapped up another playoff-less season and watching games in April from his couch is starting to get to him.
The second year undrafted free agent used to carry the chip of being passed over in the draft on his shoulder. Today, he’s trying to prove he belongs on NHL ice night after night.
The Canucks finished the season with the second fewest points in the Western Conference for the
second consecutive season. It’s a stat Stecher isn’t proud of and it’s motivating him going into the offseason.
“I just want to prove myself every day that I’m a part of the solution and not a part of the problem,” Stecher said. “I’ve always been told I’m too small or I wasn’t offensive enough. I pride my game on working hard and it’s gotten me to this level and I want to take advantage of that.”
“If you’re a good hockey player, you’re going to find a way. They’re going to find you.” – Troy Stecher
Stecher has already made a habit of proving teams across the NHL wrong. He was an afterthought in the 2012 Draft after a 40-point campaign in the BCHL for the Penticton Vees. After a third and final year in Penticton, Stecher traveled to Grand Forks to begin his college career. It would eventually get out that Stecher was being courted as an undrafted free agent after his sophomore season.
“I wasn’t even close to thinking I was ready to play pro,” Stecher admits three years later.
That changed his junior season. Stecher posted a career-high 29 points in 43 games during the 2015-16 season. He and Gage Ausmus were in their third year together as a defensive pairing, and they were shutting opponents down every weekend. First year head coach Brad Berry also put Stecher in charge of the powerplay with future pros Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz.
Everything was clicking for Stecher and his team was winning.
“I felt I had a good grasp on everything,” Stecher said. “It helps when your team is successful and you have a lot of individual success, I just felt that my skills at that point were ready to move on to a new challenge.”
Four days after winning a national championship, he was ready to sign his first NHL contract. The decision seemed sudden compared to that of his teammate who left early, but it was a calculated move Stecher analyzed for weeks.
“You talk to teams throughout the season obviously, to get a grasp with where you’re at,” Stecher
began. “You can narrow it down pretty quick. You know there are certain teams that are going to reach out, but you don’t think it’s going to be a good fit based on the depth chart or where they are in the organization with veterans or young guys, there’s just different situations. You know if it’s not a place where it’s going to work. You can cut your list down pretty quick if you’re a free agent, like my situation. I could’ve done what Caggiula did and taken the time and gone and visited places, but I
kind of based it on the aspect that I wanted to play on a young team or a team that was getting young, that had a future and I wanted to be a part of the next core.”
“I just want to prove myself every day that I’m part of the solution and not a part of the problem.” – Troy Stecher
The Richmond, British Columbia, native picked the team he followed obsessively as a kid. The overlooked defenseman was finally affiliated with the NHL, and was headed to play for the Vancouver Canucks beginning in the fall of 2016.
“If you’re a good hockey player, you’re going to find a way,” Stecher said. “They’re going to find you.”
Stecher’s entry-level contact ran out at the end of the regular season. At 24 years old, he will become a restricted free agent after the draft this summer. He’s still out to prove he’s a part of the solution when it comes to finding the next young core in Vancouver. He and his former North Dakota teammate Boeser got to share the ice this year, and Stecher is planning to share the ice with him in Vancouver for years to come.
Stecher on the Pros North Dakota is Producing
“It says a lot about the coaching staff, the time and effort they put in. I can remember when Hak (Dave Hakstol) was the head coach, the countless hours of every single guy sitting with Jacks (Dane Jackson) and Brad Berry doing one-on-one things. When Berry became the head coach, the amount of work that Jacks and (Matt) Shaw put in, it’s pretty impressive. I don’t think a lot of programs are at that level.
“Them not making the tournament is a reflection of that, they had a lot of guys missing that if they
stayed all four years, they would’ve had a way deeper squad. So turnover is tough, but it says a lot about the program and a lot about their development, and I think the best players want to play at that program because of the success they’re having.”