Could Troy Stecher be heading to a meeting with Dave Hakstol in Wednesday’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
Stecher, a defenseman from Richmond, B.C., initially committed to Omaha, but reopened his recruiting when Mike Hastings left Omaha to be the head coach of Minnesota State-Mankato.
Stecher narrowed down his choices to UND and West Michigan, choosing UND in March 2013.
“I’m an undersized defenseman at 5’11,” he said at the time. “Four more years and going to North Dakota gives me the best opportunity to enter the NHL, and that’s my end goal.
Stecher played two years under Hakstol and a third year under Brad Berry, winning an NCAA National Championship as a junior. He then signed a contract with the Canucks in his hometown of Vancouver and quickly established himself as an NHL regular.
Now, eight years after Hakstol initially recruited Stecher, he will have the opportunity to do so again.
The Detroit Red Wings failed to protect Stecher ahead of the expansion NHL Draft on Wednesday, meaning Hakstol and the Seattle Kraken will have the opportunity to add him to the inaugural roster.
Seattle will submit their picks to the NHL on Wednesday morning. They will be revealed on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on a 90-minute special on ESPN2.
The Kraken will select one player from each NHL team.
Hakstol, the former UND player and head coach, was announced last month as the Kraken’s first head coach.
While Hakstol builds his squad from the ground up, many of his prominent former players are on protected rosters.
He won’t have the opportunity to recruit TJ Oshie, who grew up in the Seattle area until he moved to Warroad in his sophomore year of high school. Oshie was protected by the Washington Capitals. Hakstol will also not be able to sign Tyson Jost or Brock Boeser, two players he helped recruit but did not train at UND. Jost, who became the UND’s first engagement under Berry’s tenure, was protected by the Colorado Avalanche and Boeser was protected by the Vancouver Canucks.
Stecher is perhaps the most intriguing former UND player available in the NHL expansion draft.
He just had a solid first season with the Red Wings and a strong performance at the Men’s World Championship, where he led Canada to a gold medal. Stecher played more minutes than any player in the tournament.
Stecher, who played 330 regular season games in the NHL, has one year left on his contract with a cap of $ 1.7 million, which would be good value for the Kraken.
Hakstol and general manager Ron Francis both spoke about the desire to create a culture with the Kraken first team. Stecher would fit into that as well. The former UND assistant captain is known as one of the league’s most assiduous players and has won championships before.
In addition to his gold at the Men’s World Championship, Stecher won a gold at the World Junior A Challenge with Canada West, a Canadian National Junior A title with the Penticton Vees and a National Collegiate title with UND.
“It’s really about building with good quality people to start with,” Hakstol said of forming the initial Seattle roster, “building it the right way, making sure we don’t build only a team that can walk out the door and play with a lot of pride, passion and success, but also work to strengthen the depth of the organization not only for that early success, but to have that lasting success. ”