Detroit Hockey Now polled a scout, two general managers, two broadcasters, four journalists, an ex-NHL player and a former team executive and 54.5% of them think defenseman Troy Stecher will be the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft pick from Detroit.
Six of the 11 panelists took Stecher. Defenseman Dennis Cholowski received two votes and left wing Evgeny Svechnikov, center Vladimir Namestnikov and Danny Dekeyser received one vote each.
“Cholowski might end being the better player,” said one Stecher supporter. “But he is out of options.”
Stecher is 5-foot-10, 185 pounds and won over fans with an energetic style and a willingness to jump into the play offensively. Stecher set up the game-winning overtime goal for Canada against Russia at the World Championships with a spectacular move. He made a slick between-the-legs move to slide around one opponent and then danced around another before making a nifty goalmouth pass. Andrew Mangiapane knocked the pass home for the game-winner.
Former North Dakota college player Stecher has 136 points in 330 NHL games. He played in Vancouver before coming to Detroit. “I’d go with Stecher if they want to compete soon,” said one of his supporters.
Stecher is 27, while Cholowski, a 2016 first round pick, is 23. “What you see is what you get with Stecher, while there is still plenty of up-side with Cholowski,” said another voter.
Centers in Short Supply
Namestnikov, 28, has played 10 NHL seasons and once scored 22 goals in a season. “There are not a lot of centers available to the Kraken,” said the Namestnikov voter.
One gambling website lists Svechnikov as the betting favorite to be the Seattle pick. A case could be made that Svechnikov could be a good third liner for Seattle and maybe more if he continues to develop. But he’s 24 now. The Kraken could probably draft Stecher and pick up Svechnikov for future considerations. He doesn’t seem to be in Detroit’s plans.
If Cholowski isn’t taken, the Red Wings will give him an opportunity to play regularly this season. He has shown an offensive flair, but hasn’t competed hard enough to please coaches.