With Hampus Lindholm off the restricted free agent market, Jacob Trouba is the key remaining name.
Is there anything new on the Trouba front?
“Status quo,” agent Kurt Overhardt told The Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe Thursday afternoon. “Nothing has changed. The document we put out still stands.”
The 22-year-old defenseman was a topic on Thursday evening’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading though, where there was actually some new light shed.
“It’s believed that the Winnipeg Jets still are willing to present an offer of six years at $5.5 million,” said Darren Dreger. “But the Trouba camp insists that it’s not about the money. It’s about the fit. It’s about his usage. But Winnipeg determines the fit, either in Winnipeg or elsewhere.
“And perhaps the market isn’t as big as Jacob Trouba would like. I had a couple of general managers tell me there has been Canadian interest directed at Winnipeg, but the belief is that Trouba doesn’t see a fit in Canada.”
While on Montreal’s TSN 690 Friday morning, Bob McKenzie was asked to follow up on that report.
“Darren Dreger just reported that the word he’s getting is that there have been some Canadian teams that have maybe shown some interest in Trouba,” reiterated McKenzie. “But the vibe they got – and I’m guessing that the vibe was either from the Jets or from Trouba’s agent, but nobody specifically said this – is that ‘Yeah, you know what. All things being equal, this is a player that would much rather play in the United States than in Canada.’
“So we’ll see. I still think what it comes back to is it’s very quiet on the Trouba trade front. I really don’t believe the Winnipeg Jets are proactively trying to move this player. I’m sure they’re getting calls. And I’m sure they have an idea of what is being offered. But I think they look at it and they say, ‘You know what? We’ve got a lot of really good, young players on this team. We’ve got a potential – a pretty good, quasi stud center in Mark Scheifele, who’s still very young. 22 years old. We’ve got Laine, and we’ve got all of these tremendous scoring wingers – Kyle Connor and Nik Ehlers. Elite guys with offensive ability. We’ve got obviously Byfuglien as a veteran D, and Myers as a mid-age veteran D. But we have right now in Jacob Trouba a young, stud D.’
“So when you start building a championship team, you’re looking for all of those elements. ‘Elite, goal-scoring wingers? Yeah, we’ve got lots of those. A big, number one center? Yeah, we’ve got Mark Scheifele developing on that front. And a stud, top-pairing, No. 1 defenseman? Yeah, we’ve got Jacob Trouba.’ So you can see why Winnipeg doesn’t want to get rid of him.
“And Darren also reported it’s his belief that right now, the Jets would give Jacob Trouba a six-year deal at $5.5 million (per year). Boom. Done. But obviously the player doesn’t want to be there.
“And then what Winnipeg has got to weigh is, ‘Well, we can play hardball and say we’re not trading you. You better come back here and sign the deal because we want you and you’re not going anywhere else.’ But then it always comes back to kind of the Evander Kane scenario that we had in Winnipeg too. How badly and how well does it end when you have a player in your lineup who doesn’t want to be there? We knew for years, or we thought we did, that Evander Kane wanted out of Winnipeg. And he did. But Winnipeg kept on saying, ‘No, no, no. It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.’ And that wasn’t okay. And it kind of blew up.
“So I guess Winnipeg has got to weigh how badly does Trouba not want to be in Winnipeg versus how badly do they need a stud defenseman who’s a big part of their future.”
There is just over one month left in this high-stakes game of chicken between Trouba’s camp and the Jets, with the CBA-mandated December 1 ‘sign and play or go home for the season’ deadline looming.
The list of potential trading options for the Jets was already fairly limited, given Kevin Cheveldayoff’s insistance on a left-shot defenseman of similar age and skill level as his return. Now with Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal apparently nixed from Trouba’s side of the equation, the list dwindles even further.
Sure, Cheveldayoff could trade Trouba to any team he saw fit. But no other GM is going to give up an equally valuable asset for a player who isn’t interested in signing there for the long run.
Stay tuned. The situation will be resolved one way or another soon enough.
Sources: Winnipeg Sun, TSN, TSN 690
For reference: Covering the Insiders