NHL trade grades: Troy Stecher gives Oilers a determined defenseman at a low cost

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The trade

Edmonton Oilers get: Defenseman Troy Stecher, seventh-round draft pick.

Arizona Coyotes get: Fourth-round draft pick.

Eric Duhatschek: There was always a chance that the Oilers would turn to Arizona to try and land a right-shot defenseman as a depth piece for their stretch run. But most of us thought that if the two teams made a deal, it would be for Matt Dumba, not Troy Stetcher. Dumba has the better pedigree, but presumably also had the higher asking price.

So, the Oilers settled for Stetcher, who isn’t going to displace any of their current top-six defensemen, but is well equipped to be the seventh defenseman on the roster and able to step in, if needed. Stecher played mostly on Arizona’s third pair this season alongside Juuso Valimaki and, instructively, was fourth overage in usage among Coyotes defensemen by coach Andre Tourigny (18:26 in average time on ice this season). That speaks to a coach’s trust.

Even though it’s often an ignored stat, Stetcher was a plus player (plus-5) on a team that had a lot of players in the minuses. Ideally, the Oilers were hoping to add size on the back end – and Stetcher does not bring that. Indeed, he is the opposite – just 5-foot-10, 184 pounds. He relies on positioning to box out bigger forwards and sometimes ends up mismatched physically. But he plays a determined style, and this won’t be his first rodeo as a rental.

In fact, it’s the third year in a row that he’s moved at the deadline – from Detroit to L.A. in 2022, and then from Arizona to Calgary in 2023. Both times, the fit was relatively seamless. The Coyotes thought enough of Stetcher to bring him back to Arizona as an unrestricted free agent this summer at a reasonable $1.1 million AAV. You won’t hear a bad word said about him by any teammates, current or former.

Sometimes, at the trade deadline, a team will take a big swing. That was the Oilers last year, landing Mattias Ekholm. This was a smaller swing, but it also came at a far lower price, too – just a fourth rounder going Arizona’s way and a seventh-rounder coming back to Edmonton. For what they got, for what Stetcher is, it’s a respectable pick-up.

Oilers grade: B
Coyotes grade: B-

(Photo of Troy Stecher: Matt Kartozian / USA Today)

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