After a stalemate that lasted months, Jacob Trouba will once again suit up for the Winnipeg Jets. The 22-year-old, right shot defender inked a two-year, six million dollar contract to remain with the team that drafted him. However, this had done nothing to fully quiet the rumours surrounding Trouba’s long-term status with the Jets, or the supposed gripes he had with the city and team. What this deal does, is give Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff more options than he had with the Michigan product as a restricted free agent.
As many Jets fans know, the rumour mill has been swirling in the months following the news that Trouba wanted out of Winnipeg. The defender was consistently linked to trades involving the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings, and it would be a good idea for the Jets to move the young blueliner out of the conference if the Jets end up trading him.
In interviews that followed the signing, Trouba noted that he had rescinded his trade request but this does not fully close the door on the issue. The bridge deal that Trouba signed only heightens his value on the trade market. An annual salary cap hit of three million dollars would make any team looking for a cornerstone defenceman salivate, especially those close to the cap like the Bruins.
Cheveldayoff was quoted in an interview with Sportsnet saying he has no interest in trading the young defenseman.
“He’s a Winnipeg Jet. I’m looking forward to him playing. I’m not looking to trade him,” he said.
This does not fully disqualify him from being traded, however. After all, Shea Weber and PK Subban swapped sweaters this summer. Anything is possible in today’s NHL.
Perhaps the Jets could look to the New York Islanders for a potential trade partner. Although Travis Hamonic rescinded his own trade request this summer, it still may be worthwhile for him to be traded to his home town. A one-for-one trade involving two young, right-handed defensemen with cap-friendly contracts could be something to consider.
The prospect of keeping Trouba as a member of the Jets may be a curse more than a blessing. The main issue surrounding Trouba’s desired departure was his deployment. Trouba was not happy playing on the left side, as a right-shooting defenseman. With the likes of Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien taking up the first and second pairing spots on the right side, Trouba was placed on his off side to get the minutes he wanted.
Another issue arising from depth is the arrival of Josh Morrissey, who now occupies Trouba’s place in the lineup. Morrissey is a left-handed defenseman, much better suited to be playing on that side. He also has stepped up his play this season, making it Trouba’s job to take the spot from him. Likewise, the consistent play of Ben Chiarot means Trouba will have to prove to head coach Paul Maurice that he deserves the assignments he wants.
The one positive we can glean from keeping Trouba is the incentive provided by his new contract. With the amount set aside for Trouba’s contract, he must be willing to step up his game. Trouba simply wasn’t worth the six million dollars a year he was originally asking for.
Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers signed an extension this offseason with an annual value of 7.5 million dollars, while Morgan Reilly of the Toronto Maple Leafs signed a contract worth five million annually. The dollars Trouba was asking for would’ve put him between these two players, who have performed well beyond what Trouba has done the past few seasons.
With the relatively low value and term of this contract, we can hope Trouba will step up his game to prove he’s worth what he says he is. This will be good in the short term for the Jets as he will provide the level of play necessary to get them in the playoff picture, while driving up his value to potential trade partners as well as the team itself.
What then is the final verdict on the signing? It’s a good one. It ends the media circus, quiets the murmurs from the media and lets the boys get down to business. However long Trouba will remain in a Jets jersey is unknown, but this contract certainly is a step in the right direction.