In a situation reminiscent of Jonathan Drouin’s trade request last season, Jacob Trouba wants out of Winnipeg. The 22-year-old defenseman is in the midst of contract negotiations, failing to come to any compromise with the Jets organization.
Trouba’s name has been swirling through the trade rumors since last season, but this is the furthest his unhappiness with the Jets has gone. In the statement announcing Trouba’s request, Trouba’s agent cited the Jets’ depth on the right side as part of the reasoning for the request.
As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.
Winnipeg does have depth on their right side in Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, making it possible for them to deal Trouba and be fine on defense. Still, the asking price should Trouba be traded is expected to be a top, young defenseman, taking many teams out of the equation.
Winnipeg does not need to trade Trouba, as no team should desire to trade a young, controllable defenseman that hasn’t even entered their prime yet, which means they’ve got the upper-hand in negotiations. Let’s take a look at some teams that could be fits for Trouba.
The Bruins have been attempting to acquire a defenseman throughout the offseason to no avail. Boston has a desperate need, with Zdeno Chara entering the decline phrase of his career rather quickly. Unfortunately, Boston does not have many assets to offer the Jets, so a deal may not be likely.
Looking at potential fits, the Bruins could offer Ryan Spooner and a bevy of prospects and draft picks to attempt to entice the Jets into making a trade, but in all likelihood the Jets would reject the offer in hopes of getting a young defenseman. Recently drafted defenseman Charlie McAvoy could be in play if the Bruins insist on going for it now, but that would be a major leap for the organization to take so soon after drafting him.
Count on the Bruins having a load of interest, but a scarcity of resources to acquire Trouba.
New York Rangers
There is no team in the NHL that needs a defenseman more than the New York Rangers. The Rangers have perennial potential Norris candidate Ryan McDonagh and a series of mediocre talents as their current defense, while boasting an abundance of options up front.
The gaping hole in the top four creates a major need for the Rangers, but the question is if they can match the Jets’ price. While Trouba would be an upgrade, trading a top four young defenseman for a young defenseman does not make sense for the Rangers as their roster stands now. That should rule out the Rangers moving McDonagh or Brady Skjei, who has been touted by scouts as a McDonagh-lite.
New York’s other young defensemen that could interest the Jets are Ryan Graves and Dylan McIlrath, a pair of players that hit their stride later in their respective careers than expected. McIlrath is expected to be one of the six defensemen in the lineup for New York on opening night, but he does not fit the “untradable” bill McDonagh and possibly Skjei do.
Graves was on the verge of the ECHL before taking a significant step forward last season, so giving him up wouldn’t be a huge loss for New York, but also means he wouldn’t be as valued by the Jets.
The question is can the Jets and Rangers match-up on a trade involving Graves or McIlrath and one of the Rangers many young forwards. Pavel Buchnevich, J.T. Miller, and Jimmy Vesey are all names that could be discussed in such a deal.
New York and Winnipeg could match up well in a McIlrath and Miller for Trouba trade. New York would get the young, talented defenseman they so desperately need, while Winnipeg would get an ultra-talented forward on a bridge deal, and a young, developing defenseman of their own.
Arizona Coyotes/Carolina Hurricanes
The Coyotes and Hurricanes find themselves paired together because of their strangely similar situations. Both teams outperformed their expectations last season, made moves to push themselves further into the playoff race this offseason, have young defensemen that could be moved, and have the cap space to extend Trouba on a deal he would like.
The Coyotes could offer Connor Murphy as the young defenseman in addition to any of their many forward prospects. It would be a deal similar to the Rangers offer, only with a more established defenseman and less established forwards. The Coyotes have enough prospects in the system to offer the Jets a deal they could not refuse, while Murphy would help avoid the Jets defense going down in flames.
As for Carolina, the Hurricanes don’t necessarily need help on defense, but with Cam Ward returning between the pipes the help wouldn’t hurt. With Justin Faulk as the backbone of their defense, the Hurricanes also boast Jake Bean, Trevor Carrick, Haydn Fleury, Noah Hanifin, Roland McKeown, Ryan Murphy, Brett Pesce, and Jacob Slavin either on their roster or in their pipeline.
Faulk and Hanifin should be considered untouchable, but Carolina could hypothetically package together defense and/or forward prospects to entice the Jets. The Canes would benefit, with a new top four including Faulk, Hanifin, Trouba, and another excellent prospect. Not only would that defense be young, but it would also be one of the more daunting groups in the NHL.
Winnipeg would get not only one controllable, young player, but multiple in the deal. Losing Trouba would be a blow for certain, but there is no better way to soften the blow than to acquire more exciting talent. Like the Coyotes, Carolina may not be an obvious fit, but they have the resources to get a deal done.