In the early months of 2013, Dave Hakstol first pursued Troy Stecher.
Stecher, a defenseman from Richmond, B.C., had originally committed to Omaha, but re-opened his recruitment when Mike Hastings left Omaha to be the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Stecher narrowed his choices to UND and Western Michigan, choosing UND in March 2013.
"I'm an undersized defenseman at 5-foot-11," he said at the time. "An extra four years and going to North Dakota gives me the best opportunity to get to 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 his hometown Vancouver Canucks and quickly established himself as an NHL regular.
Now, eight years after Hakstol initially recruited Stecher, he will have an opportunity to do it again.
The Detroit Red Wings did not protect Stecher ahead of Wednesday's NHL Expansion Draft, meaning Hakstol and the Seattle Kraken will have an opportunity to add him to the inaugural roster.
Seattle will submit its picks to the NHL on Wednesday morning. They will be revealed at 7 p.m. Wednesday during 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 inaugural head coach of the Kraken.
While Hakstol builds his team from scratch, many of his prominent former players are on protected lists.
He won't have an opportunity to draft T.J. Oshie, who was raised in the Seattle area until moving to Warroad as a high school sophomore. Oshie was protected by the Washington Capitals. Hakstol also won't be able to draft Tyson Jost or Brock Boeser, two players he helped recruit but did not coach at UND. Jost, who became UND's first commitment 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 is coming off of a strong first season with the Red Wings and a terrific 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 has played 330 regular-season NHL games, has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $1.7 million, which would be good value for the Kraken.
Hakstol and general manager Ron Francis both have spoken about a desire to build a culture with the Kraken's first roster. Stecher would fit into that as well. The former UND alternate captain is known as one of the hardest-working players around the league and has a history of winning championships.
In addition to his Men's World Championship gold medal, Stecher won a World Junior A Challenge gold medal with Canada West, a Canadian Junior A national title with the Penticton Vees and a college national title with UND.
"It's really about building with good, quality people to begin with," Hakstol said about forming the initial Seattle roster, "building it the right way, making sure we're building not only a team that can come out of the gate and play with a lot of pride, passion and have success but also work toward building the depth of the organization for not only that early success but to have that sustainable success."