What can Troy Stecher bring to the Calgary Flames?

Photo credit:Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
1 year ago
On Mar. 3, 2023 the Calgary Flames made a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, sending Connor Mackey and Brett Ritchie in exchange for Troy Stecher and Nick Ritchie. Without sending any major future assets out Brad Treliving was able to bring in an improvement to his defence corps.
Lets dive in to Stecher’s past to see what he can contribute to  the Flames down the stretch.

Offensive impact

Not one to be a major contributor to the overall shot share, the attacking zone isn’t Stecher’s most impactful area on the ice. It is even more unfair to judge how he was able to create offence during his time in Arizona where nobody outside of Keller and Schmaltz from the forward corps could help him out.
Even taking that out of the equation the impact is that of your usual defensive minded third pair defenceman. Shots from the point where necessary – down low to keep possession if pressured. That plays perfectly into how Calgary likes to attack.
There are bright spots in his offensive impact – his stop in Los Angeles at the end of last year saw him be the most impactful in that regard for his career. The bad news is we got such a small sample size in games played those numbers have a fairly high % chance of being skewed. Not for nothing though – it does show us he’s able to find a higher gear than what he’s averaged at times.
With the skill level of the Flames and how they attack I would not be shocked to see Stecher’s numbers take a boost. When examining Luke Schenn as a trade target I found that – using Gudbranson and Stone as examples – defenceman get a boost to their offence under Calgary’s style of play. The thing they need to bring to the table to be an above average contributor is a strong defensive acumen.

Defensive impact

As you can see from the heatmaps above the defensive impact number throughout Stechers career has fluctuated. Notably playing a positive role for a 5 year span from 2017-18 to 2021-22. While that last year is borderline it came in an injury riddled season where he played for two different teams in the middle of a pandemic. If that’s not excuse enough I don’t know what is.
For an easier – more linear way – of viewing Stecher’s impacts HockeyViz.com has another chart.
My favourite thing about this one is you can easily relate it to other aspects of his game. The biggest trend you’ll see is when his time on ice dropped back down to third pair, borderline second, his impact in every category except for setting improved by a noticeable amount. He found a niche being able to play a specific role – in Calgary he’s going to get the opportunity to play that role for a team that needed an improvement on play in that spot.
His strengths include net-front defence – at times he’s been able to extend it up into the mid-slot. Most likely his partner will be  Zadorov who excels at that aspect. Stecher is certainly more mobile than many of the other defence corps too, not anywhere near what Kylington used to bring, but still an improvement on whoever has played in that spot all season.
He is not going to be asked to play out of his element unless multiple injuries occur – further cementing my opinion that he’s going to be a quality add for the Flames.

His comparables

Stecher is earmarked for replacing the job that Michael Stone was doing, while Dennis Gilbert slides into the role of the seventh defenceman. Compliments to Gilbert for showing he can be an effective fill-in man this season, a performance that is certain to extend itself to more NHL opportunities in his future.
Back to Stecher vs. Stone though – lets take a look at Stone’s impact in the form of the same linear hockeyviz.com breakdown we looked at for Stecher:
Even at it’s lowest, Stecher has never had a defensive impact be as negative on team shot quality as Stone. Michael Stone has been an adequate fill-in based on my opinion, but if you want to contend for a playoff spot all the possible places that can be improved should be. Brad Treliving pulling off this move did move the needle on the overall strength of his defence. Not by any crazy significant amount, but this is a positive direction move nonetheless.
With the acquisition cost being a guy the coach wasn’t going to  play and a fill-in 4th line winger this trade is a win for Calgary.
Only time will tell if it was enough to help them crawl back into the dance. It is doubtful – sure – but the odds aren’t 0% just yet.

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