Phillip Larsen

AP

With Tanev back, Canucks return Stecher to AHL

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Troy Stecher impressed a lot of people in his three-game stint with the Vancouver Canucks.

But that stint is over now. The 22-year-old rookie defenseman has been sent back to the AHL, as Chris Tanev is expected to return from injury tonight in Montreal.

Stecher was sent down for the following reasons, in no particular order:

1. Nikita Tryamkin has yet to play a second this season, but has so far refused an AHL assignment. Of the Canucks’ eight defensemen, not counting Stecher, Tryamkin is the only one who does not require waivers.

2. The Canucks are apparently unwilling to expose Alex Biega to waivers, in part because they believe they may need him in June to expose in the expansion draft. Biega has only played one game this season, and he did that as a forward.

3. The Canucks remain committed to Phillip Larsen, the right-shot d-man they acquired from Edmonton to run their power play. Problem is, Vancouver’s power play ranks 26th in the NHL, and Larsen’s a team-worst minus-7.

True, there’s something to be said for protecting assets, especially after the Canucks were so roundly criticized for losing Frank Corrado on waivers last year. But the decision to send Stecher down is one that will rankle many of the team’s increasingly frustrated fans.

After all, the Canucks entered the year with one “vision,” and that was to win hockey games. And in three games, the general consensus was that Stecher played well enough to merit more time in the NHL.

In fact, Stecher’s performance the past three games was about the only positive for the Canucks (4-4-1), who’ve dropped five straight and have the NHL’s worst offense.

Tonight’s game in Montreal is the first of six straight on the road for Vancouver. Stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Detroit will follow.