The Winnipeg Jets and RFA defenceman Jacob Trouba finally reached a deal today, with Trouba signing a 2-year/$6 million contract to stay with the Jets.
Time was running out for Trouba this season, if he reached December 1st without a contract he wouldn’t be eligible to play for the rest of the 2016/17 season.
Back in May, Trouba requested a trade out of Winnipeg because he wanted top four minutes as a right-handed defenceman, something that most teams would definitely like to acquire. Within the Jets organisation, Trouba is lower on the pecking order than he would be at most other clubs, he’s got to compete with the big bodies of Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers.
Trouba averaged slightly less minutes than Myers last year with 22:04 compared to Myers’ 22:37, but was some way off Byfuglien who was on the ice an average of 25:12, a team high for the 2015/16 season.
Firstly, this is good for the Jets. They get a solid young defenceman back to try and help a team that is leaking goals. The Jets are 24th in goals against per game with 3.15.
Now with Trouba signed, this doesn’t mean the trade talk quietens down. In fact, I think signing this deal was the smart thing for the young American defenceman to do.
While Trouba is a young emerging talent despite already playing 211 games in the NHL, he’s got to earn things rather than be granted his wish.
One argument I have you could easily combat. The Winnipeg Jets gave this kid the chance to become an NHLer, however the counter argument is that Trouba was the 9th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, any team would have given him the chance to become an NHLer. The Jets were the team to do that, part of me thinks that Trouba should show a little more respect to the team because of that and at least try and do things the proper way. (Although you don’t see me shouting and screaming about Hampus Lindholm holding out with the Anaheim Ducks until he recently a deal, he didn’t request a trade though).
Like Jonathan Drouin who I wrote a post about back when he was demanding a trade (he’s since changed his tune) Trouba must earn a trade. And the best possible way for him to earn his ticket out of Winnipeg is to prove to teams that they should come and get him.
Whilst he’s without a contact, it’s not going to be as enticing for a team to come and get him. They may trade for him and give up a bunch of picks or prospects or even a roster spot just to find that Trouba isn’t willing to sign for what the team wants to offer him. Although I’m sure they would have a rough idea what the money involved would have to be before pulling the trigger on a trade.
But still, there’s the element of the trade not working in their favour. Just ask the Buffalo Sabres. They gave up a third-round pick to acquire the rights to Jimmy Vesey this off-season, so needless to say Vesey is not a Buffalo Sabre. He hit free-agency in August and is now playing his first year in the NHL with the New York Rangers.
Also, with Trouba stating he wants out the Jets could essentially up the asking price because they know teams want to come after him, making teams compete with each other, as I’m sure they’ve had discussions with teams over the summer about him.
So Trouba now has his deal which to me makes him more tradeable than he was back in May. With an average annual salary of $3 mil for the next two seasons, and his skillset, he actually would be a fairly cheap option to some teams. All they’d have to do is pony up with an improved offer in two-years’ time.
Looking at contracts (well attempting to after General Fanager went down because the guy in charge, Tom Poraszka went and got himself a job with the Las Vegas whatever they’ll be called, congrats) Trouba is cheap for his skillset. He wasn’t the only defenceman to finish his entry-level deal this year and some of those guys got paid this summer.
Seth Jones and Rasmus Ristolainen both signed six-year/$32.4 mil deals with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres respectively. Then Hampus Lindholm also signed for six-years but at $31.5 mil with the Anaheim Ducks. Trouba is not far off those guys and earning an over $2 mil less than them for the next two-seasons.
Now, all of this is all well and good stating, but the real question is what do the Winnipeg Jets want to do?
They don’t have to trade the guy. They have stated they see Trouba as a crucial part of the team’s future but let’s be real. You can count the number of untradeable players around the league on one hand. Sidney Crosby is untradeable, Connor McDavid is untradeable, Jacob Trouba is available if you hit the sweet spot with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to force the trade through. I play fantasy football and fantasy hockey, trust me…there is usually a sweet spot for any offer.
Trouba now has to swallow his pride and lace up for the Jets for the rest of this contract and then maybe revisit this in 2018. The Jets could move him sooner, or maybe they can do what Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Cooper did with Drouin, invite the kid to breakfast and patch things up.