With an agreement yet to be made between Jacob Trouba and the Winnipeg Jets, the fan base has grown worrisome. He is the only RFA they have yet to sign, leading some to believe that Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets is in jeopardy. Does he want to play here? With his point totals on the decline, is he even worth the money? The answer to both questions is highly likely to be “yes.”
Jacob Trouba’s Future with the Winnipeg Jets
Dreger: "I've been told by both parties here that Jacob Trouba is absolutely willing to sign and stay in Winnipeg." #NHLJets 1290
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 8, 2016
Not getting a deal done yet doesn’t necessarily mean Trouba wants out of Winnipeg. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that both parties want to make it happen. They’re just struggling to do so. Trouba certainly isn’t alone in failing to reach a deal thus far. Many big name RFAs remain unsigned, including Johnny Gaudreau, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyson Barrie.
The bar is set for defenders of Trouba’s caliber:
- Morgan Reilly: $5 million AAV over six years
- Seth Jones: $5.4 million AAV over six years
- Dougie Hamilton: $5.75 million AAV over six years
Given the contract details of comparable defensemen, why hasn’t Trouba signed?
Looking in from the outside, it appears to be because of the situations the Jets are putting him in. Since joining the league in 2013, Trouba has frequently been held back by defense partner Mark Stuart. Assigning Stuart the task of mentoring the rising star was a mistake. Though no one can deny Stuart’s leadership skills, it’s the only quality he possesses. His game consists of abysmal offense (89 points in 631 games played) and a bad habit of spending too much time in his own end. Despite the poor play of his partner, Trouba manages to keep the pairing’s Corsi rating above 50 percent.
When not being dragged down by the aging Stuart, Trouba plays on his off side with Dustin Byfuglien. Finding success with an elite partner like Byfuglien is a lot easier, but at the expense of Trouba’s favorable side. Lying here is the biggest problem for the Jets. One of their top right-handed defensemen—Trouba, Byfuglien, or Tyler Myers—needs to play on the left side. Dividing up the minutes with all three on separate pairings is too tough. There is no guarantee that a Byfuglien or Myers switch to the left will work, leaving the Jets unsure if Trouba fits on the right side of their depth chart or not.
His optimum is forever hidden. Perhaps Trouba’s camp feels that there’s more money to be earned by playing him away from Stuart, and away from the left side. He’s certainly entitled to feel this way if that’s the case. We often look at athletes as spoiled, selfish, and entitled – perhaps out of jealousy. They do what they love for a living and make a lot more money than us. This shouldn’t, however, strip them of the right to earn what they’re worth.
And what Jacob Trouba is worth is every penny of a $5.5 million AAV contract.
Trouba’s debut in the NHL showcased a super fun style of game. The points were there, and he was exciting to watch. Now, however, he’s maturing and developing a more rounded game. He is more reliable on the back end, though not a dud offensively. A real two-way player.
If taking a statistical analysis on Trouba, it’s important to dig deeper than goals and assists. As Jets Nation’s Garret Hohl demonstrated, Trouba’s point totals may have dipped, but he has suppressed opponent’s offensive production more efficiently in the process.
Trouba ranks 22nd in defenseman Goals Above Average from 2008-16. He is already a borderline first pairing defenseman. Reaching his ceiling at age 22 is extremely unlikely, making a long-term deal with him a safe gamble.
The Jets and Trouba settling their differences should be achievable. He is a centerpiece of the Jets’ draft and development model. Losing him isn’t affordable. Expect them finalizing a reasonable deal before the season starts.