Impatience is growing on an already pessimistic Winnipeg Jets fan base that’s never been seen. The hour glass is shrinking, though one should spare themselves the stress; there is no need to panic over the Jacob Trouba contract negotiations. At least not yet. It is not entirely uncommon for them to take this long. It is not necessary to run the kid out of town. The Jets are in control of a fine young player and it’s time to stop looking at it as if it’s something to fear.
No Need to Panic Over Jacob Trouba Contract Negotiations
Jacob Trouba is Too Good to Let Go
An emerging notion is that Trouba is disposable because of Tyler Myers. It’s fair mentioning that the Jets have a lot of money tied up in blue liners. Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Myers, and Mark Stuart have cap hits of $7.6M, $5.75M, $5.5M, and $2.625M respectively. If Trouba signs for $5.5M, defensemen will be taking up 41% of the Jets’ salary cap. No one in the entire NHL would be paying their back end more.
41% seems hefty for the same group of defensemen that helped Winnipeg finish 22nd in goals against last season. This is why they need to keep the better defender if picking between Trouba and Myers. Standing in at 6’8″, the latter is exciting when the puck is on his stick. However, his play in the defensive end isn’t so pretty. Statistics greatly support Trouba being the better player, which is incredible when factoring in Trouba playing with an inferior partner, as well as being further away from his prime.
Trouba projects to sign at or near Myers’ annual $5.5M cap hit. If money being tied up in blue liners is a problem, making room for Trouba is the right move. Keeping a worse player for the same amount of money isn’t.
There is No Reason to Assume Trouba Wants Out
@GarretHohl no evidence to suggest this. Myth in my view. Been told by some in his circle that he likes Winnipeg
— gary lawless (@garylawless) August 7, 2016
Concrete evidence suggesting Trouba dislikes Winnipeg has yet to emerge. Ironically, it took Myers until September 15 to reach an agreement with the Buffalo Sabres the year his entry level contract expired. Still in late August, the panic button doesn’t need to be pressed just yet.
Trouba’s usage, which is fixable, has been the focal point of his concern. Gary Lawless reports that Trouba “wants to be a big part of what they’re doing in Winnipeg if he’s going to be [there] for a long time.” Playing with Mark Stuart and being given limited power play time has put the “big part” Trouba craves out of reach.
Myers was awarded 165:22 worth of power play time last season, while Trouba was given 103:15. Myers scored two power play points last season, while Trouba scored four. Trouba did more with less, and should probably be rewarded for it.
Trouba Has No Leverage
Even if, contrary to reports, Trouba wants out of Winnipeg, there’s not much he can do. The team in possession of an RFA own the player’s NHL rights until he turns 27, or has played in the league for seven years. Jets fans will recall former-RFA Evander Kane requesting a trade every off-season. His wishes were initially unfulfilled, forcing him to sign in Winnipeg for six years. Like Myers, his deal was signed in September. Kane of course was later dealt via trade, though not many Jets fans are complaining with Kevin Cheveldayoff‘s haul.
Also worth noting is Team North America selecting Trouba in the World Cup of Hockey. This puts another high card in Cheveldayoff’s hand. Playing in the tournament would be a risky move on Trouba’s part. Potential injuries without a contract would obviously bode poorly for him.
Why Has it Taken So Long?
It’s very possible that in an attempt to save money, the Jets have been leaning heavily on point totals while negotiating. When doing this, Trouba draws close comparisons to Olli Maatta, who recently signed a six-year, $4.083M AAV contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Maatta was on pace for 23 points last year before he got injured, similar to Trouba’s underwhelming total of 21.
The $4.083M Maatta signed for is a lot less than the current long-term market value of $5M-$5.75M. However, defensemen in the $5M-$5.75M range have been racking up more points than Trouba and Maatta.
When Dougie Hamilton signed his $5.75M AAV, six-year deal, he was coming off a 42 point season. Morgan Reilly recently inked a $5M AAV, six-year deal, coming off a 36 point season. Seth Jones, who just signed for $5.4M AAV over six years, scored 31 points.
Like Maatta, Trouba doesn’t see nearly as much power play time as those players. His camp is obviously presuming more power play time puts him closer to those totals. Playing with Stuart pours salt on the wound.
The Jets have a case for getting Trouba on the cheap, and Trouba has a case for getting what he’s worth. It’s almost as if it makes perfect sense as to why both sides are making this a deadline signing.
Rather than jumping to the most negative conclusion, keep in mind that Cheveldayoff holds the high hand. This gives fans no need to panic over the Jacob Trouba contract negotiations. However the specifics play out, it’s safe to assume he will be a Winnipeg Jet in the future.