Troy Stecher has been an excellent pickup for the Calgary Flames’ defense
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
When the Calgary Flames only made two moves at the deadline, there were plenty of different reactions from the fanbase and media. But no matter the gut reaction, there were trades to be dissected, and the one including Troy Stecher caught plenty of people’s eyes.
For those who may not know, Stecher is 28 years old and has bounced around the NHL before landing with the Flames at the deadline. This season, he was with the Arizona Coyotes, but before that, he had stints with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, and Vancouver Canucks. No matter where he went, he was lauded as a strong, puck-moving, depth defenceman, and he has proved his value on the back end. That reputation has stayed steady since joining the Flames.
In 15 games with the Flames, Stecher has two goals and four assists for six points, and he has made a tangible impact on how the puck moves up the ice on breakouts and through the offensive zone. He has been strictly third pairing, which isn’t any different than what was expected, and unsurprisingly, he has been very effective in that role, no matter who was on the left side.
With Chris Tanev back in the lineup, Stecher spent the game against the Chicago Blackhawks with Nikita Zadorov, which allowed him to jump into the offence more and more. For example, he made a gorgeous play using a Jonathan Huberdeau-esque spinning backhand pass to the slot that ended up connecting.
Not only can Stecher make some incredible passes, but he has an attitude about him that we haven’t seen on this team for almost the entirety of 2022-23. As the guys on FlamesNation’s Barn Burner program so eloquently said, “The guy is playing his balls off.” There is nothing more to it than that. His fight for loose pucks is evident; he can find open lanes with the puck, and when he doesn’t have the puck, he’s finding ways to make himself open for his teammates efficiently.
Stecher’s impact on the Flames’ offence isn’t just tangible through the eye test, but it’s also prevalent in the analytics. He positively impacts the team’s offence when he’s on the ice. Per Evolving-Hockey, he has positive even-strength offence goals above replacement and expected even-strength offense goals above replacement.
The Flames, with Stecher on the ice, are not missing a beat, which is good because a team that can trust even one of its defencemen on the third pair to generate offence at a consistent level with the rest of the team is a huge step. The problem comes with his defence. One might be concerned looking at his advanced metrics that show total value, like goals above replacement (GAR) and expected goals above replacement (xGAR), because he’s at the bottom of the leaderboard with the likes of Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis. However, it’s not because he’s ineffective in every area, but his defence is troublesome.
Here are the Flames in the defensive zone with Stecher:
And here they are without him:
This poor performance in the defensive zone is a little concerning, but when he’s paired with someone like Zadorov, who produces positive results on defence (and even on offence this season), the damage that might be done is a bit limited.
Since coming to the Flames, Stecher has proven himself to be a very useful depth piece with an energy that the Flames have been missing for a while now. Unfortunately, he wasn’t on the team before the trade deadline. Still, considering he’s only signed to a contract that ends at the end of this season with a value of $1.25 million, there’s no reason management shouldn’t look at bringing him back for another run next season.
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