Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Stecher was a great addition to the Calgary Flames defence
9 months ago
Toward the end of the regular season, it was evident that there were some challenges for the Calgary Flames. As outsiders, we can speculate about the reasons all we want, and there is reason to believe certain things over others, but there’s no denying that the play on the ice wasn’t at the level it needed to be.
Enter Troy Stecher.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that Stecher is the reason for the Calgary turnaround and eventual streak toward the post-season, even though they didn’t end up nabbing a spot. However, the addition of him at the trade deadline did seem to change the tangible play on the ice. There appeared to be a purpose.
Stecher is a depth defenceman that won’t make an incredible impact on either end of the ice, but his energy, hustle, and compete level are enough to justify giving him a spot as the sixth defenceman on the back-end. Fortunately for the Flames, Stecher was able to provide offensive value, but the defensive end was where he struggled mightily.
Stecher had 7 points in 20 games with the Flames, including his only 3 goals of the season, after scoring 7 points in 61 games with the Arizona Coyotes. He certainly found his offensive stride with the Flames, getting positive results in both offensive goals above replacement (Off) value and expected offensive goals above replacement (xOff) compared to VERY negative results in Arizona.
Below are two heatmaps, the first being the level of impact that Stecher had on the Flames offense, generating plenty of shots from high-danger areas instead of from the point.
And below is the kind of impact he made on the Coyotes’ offence. It’s a night and day difference between the two teams.
The offence being on such different sides of the spectrum per both Evolving-Hockey and HockeyViz (and represented by the heatmaps) is something to behold, but the more interesting development (at least in my opinion) that resulted from his move to the Flames is the worsening of his defence at even strength as his offence got better. His even-strength defence GAR (EVD) and expected even-strength defence GAR (xEVD) both declined majorly in his move to the north. With the Coyotes, his EVD sat at minus-0.5. With the Flames, it deteriorated to minus-3.8. The same can be said with his xEVD, starting at minus-0.9 and decreasing to minus-3.4.
As a hockey fan and writer, I love to use analytics as a way to back up what my eyes are seeing. I think they’re an important piece to the puzzle that, while there is still plenty of traction to be gained in terms of perfecting the imperfections in the numbers and their applications in everyday hockey broadcasts, should be used in any analysis of a player. However, in the case of Stecher, I think it’s more important to focus on what the eyes say than what the “all-encompassing” analytics say.
There was a clear difference in the amount of energy the team had after Stecher took the ice for the first time and for the rest of the season. I’m sure there were other things that changed too, but there is something to be said about a player coming from a non-playoff team to a playoff contender and wanting to play postseason hockey. Nonetheless, he was a great pickup for the Flames in 2023, and hopefully, they can re-sign him to a short term, low cap hit deal to keep him around and continue playing him with Nikita Zadorov.
Letter Grade: B
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