In an absolute stunner, the Rangers have acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. It’s what they gave up that is so shocking.
Apparently due to a cap crunch, the Jets were so desperate to get rid of the top pair right defenseman, who is a restricted free agent, that they only got back RFA defenseman Neal Pionk and recouped the first round pick (#20 overall) they gave up in the Kevin Hayes deal.
This is an unbelievable night for GM Jeff Gorton and new Team President John Davidson. Knowing they needed an experienced shutdown defenseman that could play the right side, they landed the 25-year old Trouba.
A good player they targeted along with the Hudson rival Devils and Red Wings, Trouba just completed his sixth season in Winnipeg. Originally a 2012 ninth overall pick by the Jets, the 6-3, 202 pound American established career highs in assists (42) and points (50) while playing in all 82 games for the first time.
He is the kind of solid skating and tough right defenseman the Rangers haven’t had since dare I say Dan Girardi. Only with much more talent than what the classic overachiever accomplished on Broadway before winding up where most former Rangers go, which is Tampa.
A complete player who can play power play and penalty kill while logging big minutes at even strength, Trouba averaged 22:53 of ice-time this past season. He blocked 171 shots and had 112 hits. The third time in his six-year career that he was over 100 in both categories.
It’s ironic that they just made the trade for him because I was casually on a salary cap website when I noticed Pionk listed under Winnipeg. I quickly checked the Rangers and sure enough, Trouba was already listed. I couldn’t believe it. Winnipeg didn’t get any other players. Not key Group II free agent right wing Pavel Buchnevich as I first tweeted earlier today.
I didn’t believe Pionk and the original 2019 Winnipeg first would be enough to get Trouba. I thought it would take a third piece. Instead, the Rangers took full advantage of the Jets’ complicated cap situation.
Winnipeg is in a tough spot due to both Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine being due significant raises as key restricted’s. Plus vet defenseman Tyler Myers is unrestricted and they want to re-sign him. Brandon Tanev and Ben Chiarot are also UFA’s. Pionk is a RFA. But will be much cheaper than what Trouba would’ve cost.
The Rangers will have to pay Trouba the much rumored $7.5 million AAV he wants. Or somewhere in that neighborhood. Considering his young age, he’s in his prime.
That makes this acquisition a home run for the organization. Now, they finally have the top pair right defenseman they so desperately needed to anchor the back end.
Brady Skjei will remain on the top pair and finally get a legit player to work with. That’s as long as they jell. It also means Tony DeAngelo could be staying. He’s a restricted free agent this summer. As a second pair D with Hobey Baker finalist Adam Fox competing for a roster spot this Fall, it could signal the end for veterans Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. Smith is expected to be bought out while rumors were rampant that Gorton couldn’t find any takers for Shattenkirk on the trade market.
With young blueliners such as Fox, Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren all possibilities in September along with Yegor Rykov, the Rangers blueline could have a very different look. Wait until 2018 first round pick K’Andre Miller arrives.
Things are looking up in Manhattan and we are still a few days away from the NHL Draft.