Jacob Trouba clicking on all cylinders for New York Rangers
When Jacob Trouba was selected as the 28th captain of the New York Rangers in August of 2022, he was already experiencing the weight of responsibility that accompanies the history and tradition of being a leader of a 96-year-old franchise (at the time) and an Original Six team.
“Coming here with the contract and getting traded and all that, I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, and I struggled” Trouba admitted. “There’s a fine line between growing as a person and a leader and a hockey player and trying to be someone you’re not. I want to keep growing, and growing happens organically. You can’t really rush it or force it.”
Though perhaps unknown to outsiders, however, many of his teammates already viewed him as a leader and as their chief representative. This was due in large part to how he reached out to them, made himself available and approachable, so that anyone could lean on him for help or guidance.
Even Rangers’ President and General Manager Chris Drury revealed that many of the players felt Trouba was the unofficial acting captain, thus making the move a mere formality.
Jacob Trouba playing like a captain
Of course, the best captains are usually the players that can back what they say by their actions. Which means putting your best foot forward and making every effort to keep your team in the game, every game.
And in the case of a leader like Trouba, that entails playing top-tier defense and setting an example for a number of the more junior, less developed players. Although spiritually and emotionally the Rangers’ captain may have been a leader from the outset, there had been elements of his game itself that left some room for improvement.
Despite the experienced defenseman bringing with him a bit of a two-way game, he is primarily a defender and somewhat of an enforcer. Keeping the puck inside the blue line on offense and getting back to defend his own net are areas of emphasis for Trouba, rather than managing a power play unit, for example.
Players across the league know Trouba for his trademark bone-crushing hits; but there’s another aspect of his defense that has grown this season, and it’s a critical one for the Blueshirts. The entire team has improved in the blocked shot category, and the captain is leading the way.
Inside Trouba’s numbers
Just taking a quick glance at Trouba’s stats since he joined the Rangers, he’s averaged 146.25 blocked shots per season with the team (including the pandemic-shortened seasons). In the 14 games played so far this season by New York, the 29-year old captain already has 50 blocked shots. That’s 25-35% of a season’s worth of blocked shots for Trouba in the past. That also leads the league in blocked shots to date, this season.
Regarding hits, Trouba has averaged 177.25 hits per season for the Rangers since coming over to New York, and he has 38 to date on the year — so he’s basically on pace for 222 hits this season. His +/- is +3, and he’s sporting an xGA of 10.34.
The Rangers’ captain has also looked more confident and in control of the puck this season, with only three giveaways to date.
All of this indicates the veteran defenseman is feeling even more himself this season, and the Rangers are the fortunate beneficiaries of Trouba’s upgraded game.