Those of you who were kind enough to have read some, or all, of my 50-something Forever Blueshirt articles know that I am a 40-something year Ranger fan who has just about seen it all. Pertaining to the athletes that have patrolled the blue-line at the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street, I have witnessed the great (Brian Leetch), the good (Ryan McDonagh), the bad (Joe Cirella) the ugly (Vlad Malakhov) and the grotesque (Igor Ulanov). Unfortunately and much to the chagrin of Ranger Nation, there have been more misses than hits when it comes to the Garden management opening up the check book for a high priced defenseman. Stephane Quintal anyone?
General manager Jeff Gorton made it crystal clear that trying to obtain former Winnipeg Jets defeseman Jacob Trouba was of great importance. Once the deal was completed that brought the Michigan native to the Big Apple in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th pick in the 2019 draft, Gorton finally nabbed his elusive prize and the Rangers had a legitimate top-tier number one cornerstone defeseman.
Trouba would go on to sign the richest deal for a defenseman in team history inking a seven year 56 million dollar contract. Considering the hype, expectations and lucrative new contract. there was palpable pressure on #8 to pay immediate dividends. The 2019-20 season may still be in its embryonic stages. However, thus far, the early returns on the 25-year-old former Wolverine have been positive.
Trouba has been one of the few bright spots during the Blueshirts early season struggles. Trouba is a horse. Trouba has a shadowing, hulking presence. The likes of which the Garden Faithful has not seen in quite some time. Trouba is on the top power play unit as well as the top penalty killing unit. Trouba is always on the ice in the final minutes of a close contest regardless of which team is leading on the scoreboard.
The Ranger hierarchy has been lauded for their off-season for the ages, quickly transforming the Blueshirt’s roster, significantly upgrading the talent and accelerating the rebuild process. Free agent Atermi Panarin and the 2nd pick overall in the 2019 NHL draft, Kaapo Kakko have received the lion’s share of the attention and adulation from the media and fans alike regarding last summer’s key additions. When it’s all said and done, the acquisition of Trouba may be the most important and crucial roster addition of all. Ask any Stanley Cup winning team or contending team about the paramountcy of having a solid core of defensemen.
With stud rookie Adam Fox cutting his teeth on the NHL level and with 2018 first round pick Nils Lundkvist turning more heads than a car accident in the Swedish Elite League, one can assume that the Rangers right side defense is set for the next several years once the slick-skating Swede decides to cross the pond and hang out his shingle on Broadway.
Right now, the Ranger team is struggling. The Ranger fans are getting impatient. The Ranger beat writers are trying to keep everyone calm. In the midst in all this early season madness is Jacob Trouba: dependable, reliable, and structural.