Oilers' Troy Stecher has surgery after cyst on ankle gets infected

“We were aware of this (cyst concern) and he managed it as he played through the season but at some time it became infected and got way worse,” said Oilers’ GM Ken Holland

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Troy Stecher, acquired at the trade deadline from Arizona as veteran insurance on the blueline, has had surgery to remove a cyst on his ankle that had become badly infected.

He won’t be back on the ice until late this summer.

“We were aware of this (cyst concern) and he managed it as he played through the season but at some time it became infected and got way worse,” said Oilers’ GM Ken Holland, who got the unrestricted free-agent Stecher along with a seventh-round draft pick this June for a 2027 fourth-round selection.

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Stecher, who has played 494 NHL games, never got into a post-season game in Edmonton, in large part because they had their top six of Evan Bouchard, Mattias Ekholm, Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, Brett Kulak and Vincent Desharnais and nobody got hurt. But he did, and when coach Kris Knoblauch made a change in Game 4 against Dallas, Philip Broberg was next man up. Broberg played 14 minutes with Ceci in a third pair and will also do so against the Stars in Game 5 Friday night with Desharnais still sitting.

The cyst seemed a non-issue for Stecher when the trade was made, until it wasn’t. He couldn’t get his foot into his skate boot after it became infected. He had the cyst drained and the Oilers thought it was coming along, but the lump became very big again, and he had to stop practising with the team.

Draining the cyst often remedies the problem but in this case it didn’t, so he needed surgery. A cyst can press on nerves in the ankle making it painful and also restricting movement.

Stecher, who turned 30 in April, was sent to see a doctor in North Carolina, who recommended surgery because the cyst had attached to a piece of Stecher’s body and it was feeding the cyst.

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Troy Stecher (51) of the Edmonton Oilers
Troy Stecher (51) of the Edmonton Oilers, checks Jake Evans (71) of the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place in Edmonton on March 19, 2024. Photo by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia

The recovery period where the swelling, tenderness and stiffness is completely gone is usually two to four months after surgery so he could be skating in August. That complicates things for the UFA defender.

The Oilers were bullish on the Stecher trade because of his versatility to play right or left side on the back-end plus the close to 500 league games and 22 more in the playoffs.

“We’re bringing in a really competitive guy who can pass the puck. He’s also been traded three times now at the deadline so he knows the whole program,” said Holland, who watched Stecher get four points in the L.A.-Oilers series in 2022.

The Oilers picked up all of Stecher’s $1.1 million cap hit in the Arizona deal because they wouldn’t retain money like in 2023, when Coyotes dealt centre Nick Bjugstad and AHL defenceman Cam Dineen to the Oilers and halved Bjugstad’s $900,000 salary in the trade to get farm defenceman Michael Kesselring and a third-round draft pick.

Whether the Oilers opt to sign Stecher again is up in the air, with the free-agent doors opening up July 1. He could be a one-and-done trade acquisition, although they could use a solid No. 7 next season if the price is right.

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Desharnais is also a UFA and they want to re-sign him, and it might cost them $2 million, a considerable increase over his current $762,500 cap hit. If Broberg is tabbed to be a regular next season, somebody may have to be traded over the summer to make it work financially on the cap.

The Oilers also acquired forwards Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick, back in the lineup for Game 5 with Derek Ryan coming out, at the March deadline. They are also UFA players July 1. Henrique might be too expensive to keep. Carrick much less so as a fourth-line, big-body, right-shot centre.

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