Less than a year ago, the Winnipeg Jets dealt with dragout negotiations with restricted free agent Jacob Trouba. The young blueliner and his agent Kurt Overhardt attempted to force the Jets’ hand, requesting a trade and holding out. The team finally managed to get the former ninth-overall pick in 2012 to agree to a two-year bridge deal worth $6MM. Once signed, Trouba withdrew his trade request and everything seemed fine. The 23-year-old had career highs in assists and points, finishing the season with eight goals and 25 assists for 33 points, but he played in 21 fewer games than the year before.
With one year remaining on his deal signed a year ago, however, no extension was agreed to yet this offseason and James O’Brien of NBC Sports writes that the team could have similar problems with Trouba coming up in the future. With that restricted status preventing him from getting the contract that he really wanted and forcing him to sign a team-friendly deal, the scribe writes that Trouba and his agent may force the Jets’ hands this time around with either a high-paying extension or forcing a trade elsewhere.
Many short-bridge, team-friendly deals (especially messy contract disputes) have later forced teams to pay up big-time. Although Trouba will remain an RFA in a year, O’Brien compares these negotiations to that of other players who were later traded, including P.K. Subban (formerly of Montreal), Ryan O’Reilly (formerly of Colorado), Ryan Johansen (formerly of Columbus) and Kyle Turris (formerly of Arizona). Several of those players were Overhardt clients, who is known to be aggressive.
Could that mean that Trouba could find himself on the trade wire at the trade deadline this year? O’Brien suggests that while he may not be a top defenseman yet, he could command more than Seth Jones money ($5.4MM AAV) on his next contract and the young defenseman has another year to prove his worth on the ice. Either Winnipeg will have to pay up or move him to a team that will.