UND’s Troy Stecher could be a college free agent this spring (this is his junior year). A
RH defender who can run a power play (his NHL Equivalency is 23 points), Stecher
would be a nice fit for Edmonton despite lack of size (he is 5.10, 190). Hmm. A right-handed, undersized puck-moving defender from college? Hey, I know what you’re thinking. There is some evidence this young man has a different story to tell.


The Edmonton Oilers (and their fans) have had a love-hate relationship with college defensemen going back to the turn of the century. I well remember Tom Poti being booed unmercifully at Rexall, and in more recent times Tom Gilbert, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz have had their troubles playing home games in Edmonton.

Oilers fans are (in my opinion) more comfortable with rugged defenders along the lines of rookie Darnell Nurse. Although Edmonton’s towering rookie makes his share of mistakes, he is also a tough player with the ability to win battles, stand up for his teammates (hello, Roman Polak!) and skate like the wind.

More Nurse, less college! Right? Well, I would argue there is a need for defensemen who can pass, transport and shoot the puck, and for that reason young Troy Stecher should be a player of interest for the Oilers.


  • Chris Dilks, SB Nation: Philosophies are changing in the NHL, and it’s becoming more and more
    important that defensemen at the NHL level have the ability to jump into
    the rush and attack when given the opportunity rather than just sitting
    back and defending. There’s no doubt that Stecher has that ability. And
    with his added strength, he’s not going to be a liability in the
    defensive zone either. He’s a bit of a late-bloomer by NHL prospect
    standards, but has definitely developed into a legit prospect at North
    Dakota. Source
  • More Dilks: Stecher added some muscle
    between his freshman and sophomore season and went from a good
    defenseman to one of the top available free agent targets in all of
    college hockey. His smooth, strong skating allows him to be a force on
    both ends of the ice. He missed a good chunk of the season with a leg
    injury, but has been fantastic when he’s been healthy. Source
  • Ryan Lund, Fox Sports: A junior defenseman for the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, Stecher
    leads a Fighting Hawks defensive corps that has allowed just 25 shots on
    goal and 1.82 goals against per game this season. Stecher has chipped
    in offensively this season, scoring seven goals and adding 19 assists. Source


Stecher is an effective puck mover, and the scouting reports suggest an extremely valuable kicker: He is a  cerebral player, using his big brain on offense and defense. The combination of natural talent and intelligent play gives Stecher an edge on both offense and defense.

Now, that doesn’t mean the Oilers have any interest in him, or will sign him. However, he is a righty, an effective puck mover, would cost only an entry-level contract and Edmonton has an extreme need for this type of player.

I think this is a very good fit.

  • RJ

    My question would be on expectations. There are very few defencemen who can make the jump into the NHL without some time in the AHL. I would be concerned that he gets thrown to the wolves like most Oiler prospects before he’s played a season in the AHL.

    At some point you would think the Oilers would finally put player development first.

      • RJ

        I was thinking more generally of how they’ve managed Nurse, but the Oesterle observation is spot-on.

        I obviously have no say on the matter but I would have preferred he spent the entire season in the AHL, especially since this was just an “evaluation year”.

        • pkam

          When injury happened to your top 6 defenseman, you call up the best player from the minors. Nurse happened to be that guy.

          The Oilers have kept him in the juniors for 2 years. What else do you want? Call up a lesser player from the minors and keep Nurse there?

    • Copper

      RJ, nurse was drafted spent 2 more years in juniors then went to AHL. Called up due to injuries. Davidson spent 1 more year in junior then 3 in AHL before this season. Oesterle 2 years in AHL after signing. Eberle 2 more years in junior. Draisatl, back to junior after a taste of NHL, started season in AHL. called up due to injuries? Pakarain, yup. Europe then AHL. LB?? ECHL, AHL. List goes on and on. No, first overall picks do not go back to Junior. Never have. Have they been perfect? Hell no. Has any team. Nope.

  • Explicit


    That’s an easy one LT, he’s a talented hockey player you just wrote about that will never play a factor in the NHL


  • vetinari

    if they sign him, don’t gift him minutes, make him work his way up through the AHL and let him learn his craft before plugging him into the lineup. Tired of light defenders who play a timid game being given prime minutes when they are not ready.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Wasn’t Schultz 6’2? He had some size but just never used it. I wouldn’t mind a small d-man because it seems like all our d-men right now are huge.

    Might as well take a chance on him. just don’t promise him top pairing minutes from the get go, tell him he has Noris potential and then continue to play him on the top pair for 4 years no matter how much he struggles.

    • The Soup Fascist

      “Yes, Schultz is definitely 6’2″, proclaimed Jordan Eberle, who is listed as 5’11” on the the Oilers official website.

      “Dude should have won the Norris, too.”

  • Admiralmark

    In terms of Schultz we will never know what kind of player he could of been had a proper development model been followed.

    So the problem to me is how do they handle Stecher if they sign him.

    Problem I see it with some Oiler fans is they cant seem to differentiate between an effective player given ineffective partners or players that have fine skills that are playing 1-2 steps too far up the batting order(Petry, Marincin, Gilbert to name a few).

    Everybody likes a tough Gritty d man… But i’m sure the Oil fans could appreciate a Tyson Barrie or a Shattenkirk… Despite the fact they play a more cerebral game with not so much physicality.

  • MrBung

    The Oilers don’t need another project or this rebuild is going to last forever and ever…

    I am way more interested in reading and discussing what might happen to get Edmonton competitive ASAP. This team is positioned to land dead last in the league?! And behind Toronto. Let that sink in for a minute. How long is this going to go on?

  • Gadgets

    Every time you claim that Oiler fans only like rugged, tough defenceman, you’re insinuating that Oiler fans are idiots. Stop it with the insults Lowetide.

    You know the kind of defencemen that Oiler fans like? Good ones.

    Just because we didn’t think Jeff Petry was a number one d-man doesn’t mean we didn’t think he could be an effective player or that we don’t like college defencemen.

    Just because Justin Shultz was a disaster doesn’t mean that all Oiler fans want is six Jason Smiths in the lineup. Your act is tired. Give it a rest.

    Oiler fans want quality defencemen, not a fringe college d-men who will only add depth at the minor league level. Oiler fans don’t care where a player comes from. Oiler fans don’t care how big a player is. If there’s one thing that Oiler fans have learned over the last few years of losing, its that Oiler fans care about results. Oiler fans have shown themselves to be much more knowledgeable that you over the years, please stop insulting them.

    • Seanaconda

      He didn’t say fans only like rugged players he said they are more comfortable with them. And I agree with him fans tend to be more forgiving to that type of player. While being faster to jump on a guy that stick checks over going for the hit.

      • MrBung

        Which hockey fanbase doesn’t like “rugged” defensemen? Quite franlky – I agree with other posters. The fans like defensemen that are talented, hard working winners more than anything else. It just happens those tend to also be referred to using adjectives like “rugged”.

    • K.Pal

      Damn rights, we don’t need any prospects on the farm..Hell we don’t even need a farm team …. oops tried didn’t work!!!!

      God you people are dense. Went back and reread article. Absolutely nowhere did is suggest Stecher was the top pairing defense man we need…Just a prospect…..

  • Spoils

    more importantly, which 11 players would you protect from the expansion draft!?!

    1. McDavid
    2. Hall
    3. Nugent Hopkins
    4. Leon Draisaitl
    5. Klefbom
    6. Nurse
    7. Eberle
    8. Sekera
    9. Pouliot
    10. Yakupov
    11. Cam Talbot

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Assuming the Oilers give him at least half a season or more in the minors and they find at least one capable RD like Hamonic or Burns they should have the size on the left side of the defence to offset any size issues with this kid.

    Of course, we have to assume his agent will begin with the cautionary tale that is Jeff Petry, Tom Gilbert and Justin Shultz before recommending his client sign with the Oilers.

  • Armchair genius

    Looking at the AHL, ECHL, and prospects the Oilers have as dmen in their system, I would say sign every defencman you can get your hands on! Anyone with even a smidge of hockey knowledge should be able to look at our current NHL dman roster and realize the cupboard is somewhat bare. With that being said if anyone thinks that this kid from ND will step in and play is delusional. Who knows with the proper development this kid might turn into something, as with our current youngsters, Nurse, Davidson, and Oesterle. Here’s to hoping for a few free agent/trades signings in the off season to mentor and lead this young group.