TSN’s Bob McKenzie debuted ‘The Bobcast’ yesterday, weighing in on a variety of topics around the league. Among those was Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba and who has shown interest in him so far. McKenzie highlighted the Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, Rangers, and Red Wings as teams that have significant interest. Let’s take a closer look at where Trouba would fit in on those teams and if they have the young left-shooting blueliner that the Jets reportedly are coveting in return.
Arizona: The Coyotes already have a very deep blueline but GM John Chayka hasn’t hesitated to add to their defensive depth since taking over in the offseason. Trouba would conceivably fit in as their top pairing defender alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson which would give them a pretty dynamic duo as their anchors for years to come.
With Ekman-Larsson and newcomer Alex Goligoski both signed long-term, they’re not going anywhere and those are Arizona’s top two left shot defensemen. Behind them currently are first rounder Jakob Chychrun, Kevin Connauton (injured), and Jarred Tinordi (suspended). The latter two wouldn’t come close to securing a player like Trouba but the Jets are a draft-and-develop type of team and could have interest in Chychrun as a long-term piece, even if he isn’t ready to step into a top four role right away.
Boston: With Zdeno Chara starting to show his age and several blueliners that are better suited as bottom pairing options than top four players, there is a definite need for an impact defenseman and Trouba would arguably slot in as their number one option of the short and long-term. In the short-term, he could play alongside Chara, giving the 39 year old a mobile partner that could help take some of the pressure off of him.
Aside from Torey Krug, the Bruins don’t have the young left shooting defender that the Jets have been looking for. Boston just committed to Krug on a long-term deal this summer and with a cap hit of $5.25MM, he may be too pricey to fit into Winnipeg’s budget moving forward. That said, a power play pairing of Krug along with Dustin Byfuglien could be among the best in the league in a hurry.
Colorado: While the Avalanche haven’t been known for their defensive prowess in recent years, the current right side of their back end is a strength, anchored by Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie who are signed through 2023 and 2020 respectively. On the surface, this would appear to present Trouba with the same issue he faces in Winnipeg (wanting to play top four on his natural side) unless one of Johnson or Barrie were willing to move to their off-side.
Colorado also doesn’t have a young impact NHL-ready left shot defender readily available either. Their lefties on the blueline currently consist of a veteran (Francois Beauchemin) and a couple of recent castaways from other teams (Fedor Tyutin and Eric Gelinas). Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras are two prospects who have some upside that could interest Winnipeg but neither would be ready to play a key role right away.
Detroit: The Red Wings have never really replaced Nicklas Lidstrom since his retirement in 2012 and have been rumored to have interest in pretty much any top four blueliner that has been available since then. Mike Green is Detroit’s top right-shot option so Trouba, a Michigan native, would definitely be able to step into a big role immediately. Continued knee problems for Niklas Kronwall, even though he’s a lefty, may very well be another factor in their interest.
Detroit doesn’t really have a young, impact left-shooting rearguard to move, however. Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser (who is signed through 2022) are their top options while Brendan Smith, who’s next in line, is a pending UFA. Xavier Ouellet has long been viewed as a youngster with NHL potential but he isn’t advanced enough in his development to be a key piece involved in any deal for Trouba.
New York: Their top right handed defensemen are veterans Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi while they are lacking in quality prospects as well which makes them a team that could very much use Trouba. However, they’re already spending over $22MM on their back end and adding another expected sizable salary in Trouba would put them amongst the top spenders in the league at that position and likely force them to move one of their better forwards to make room.
Like many of the other teams that McKenzie singled out, the Rangers don’t really have the young left hander on the blueline to part with. Brady Skjei is a former first rounder with some upside but has all of 13 NHL games under his belt and isn’t ready to play a key role in the NHL just yet. New York does, however, have some young forwards that could potentially move if Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff wants to expand his options.
On top of the above squads, McKenzie highlighted several other teams that have shown interest between the offseason and today, the Kings, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Panthers, and Penguins.
Trouba has until December 1st to sign a contract or else he would be deemed ineligible for the remainder of the season. At this time, that seems to be the firm deadline towards getting something done unless Trouba decides to rescind his trade request and re-sign with Winnipeg which doesn’t seem to be a likely option at this point in time.