Troy Stecher must step up for Edmonton Oilers after Vincent Desharnais injury

With Vincent Desharnais reportedly suffering a broken finger, Troy Stecher will have to fill in on the blue line for the Oilers in the coming games and weeks.
Washington Capitals v Edmonton Oilers
Washington Capitals v Edmonton Oilers / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

The Edmonton Oilers' fears have been realised, with Vincent Desharnais set to miss playing time through injury. As per Brennan Delaney of Oilers Nation, the blue-liner has suffered a broken finger.

Delaney does note the severity of the injury is unknown as yet, with the Oilers yet to officially confirm the injury themselves. However, he reasonably speculates Desharnais will miss at least a few games.

Along these lines, you can make a case that the 27-year-old will miss weeks. While there are several aspects to consider, including pain tolerance, rehabilitation and just pure luck, broken fingers usually take between six-to-eight weeks to fully heal.

Bad timing

What we do know is the timing of the injury is unfortunate for everyone concerned. The Oilers have just over four weeks remaining in the regular season, in a period which will see them play 17 games.

Desharnais suffered the injury versus the Colorado Avalanche, on Saturday night inside the final minute of the second period. After a collision with John Manson, the two defencemen moved away from a scrum around the net and both landed punches, before skating off the ice.

The Laval, Quebec native will undoubtedly be missed, having come into his own during his second season in the NHL. He is an imposing physical presence, who was recently moved up to form a promising second pairing with Darnell Nurse.

Where will Stecher fit in?

With Desharnais out, the pressure falls on the recently acquired Troy Stecher to step into the lineup. The question is, what pairings will coach Kris Knoblauch use in the interim?

Knoblauch figures to keep together Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard as the Oilers' top pairing. So it's a case of deciding whether to place Stecher in the second or third pairings.

The first option would be a simple case of Stecher replacing Desharnais in the second pairing, playing with Nurse. The other option is to place the right-shot Stecher alongside Brett Kulak, and move Codi Ceci up to play alongside Nurse.

Stecher vs. Desharnais

Stecher won't bring much in terms of offence, with his career-high of 24 points coming all the way back in his rookie season of 2016-17. In fairness though, Desharnais is even less offensively-inclined.

The 29-year-old certainly has the stamina and endurance to log big minutes as and when required. As of Monday morning he has an average of 18:20 of ice time in 48 games this season, which is projected to be his most since the 2018-19 campaign.

Arguably the main area where Desharnais will be missed most, is on the penalty kill. As tough as Stecher is, as much as he is also used on the penalty kill unit, he just doesn't measure up to his now injured teammate when it comes to intimidation and physical presence.

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Overall, as much as the Oilers can 'survive' without Desharnais, they need him back sooner than later. The team is still aiming to put themselves in as strong a position as possible for the playoffs, where home ice advantage could make all the difference.

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