As has been rumored for weeks, the Rangers finally sprang into action, completing a trade with the Winnipeg Jets to acquire star right-handed defenseman Jacob Trouba. And all it took was Winnipeg’s own first rounder from the Kevin Hayes trade and Neal Pionk.
This trade is much more than it seems from the outside. Often lost in the shuffle and obscured by all the rumor buzz, there are many factors that played into the move occurring. For the Rangers, they haven’t had a true number one defenseman since the rebuild began. But now, a 25 year old power-play QB who had more assists than anyone not named Erik Karlsson or Victor Hedman last season pencils in finely for the Blueshirts.
Jeff Gorton, who has become a knight in shining armor for this rebuild, knew exactly what he was getting with Trouba. He made him the top priority this offseason and he got it done.
The Hearts Wants What the Heart Wants
For Trouba, this is a much needed fresh start. Despite what many might believe, his desire to leave the Jets is not born out of any ill-feelings or resentment over contract disputes. Trouba’s fiance is beginning her medical school residency at Nova Southeastern, located in south Florida. Trouba greatly wanted to come to the United States to be closer to his fiance while she advances her career:
“It’s a great opportunity for myself and my fiancée. We both are passionate about different things and our goal from a couple of years back was we wanted to make this work. And we decided we wanted to make this work. This is part of it, to be realistic with you.”
“From a life standpoint, that’s what I decided in the end. I’m going to marry the girl and I want her to be happy and for her dreams to be fulfilled. She’s worked extremely hard to get where she is with schooling and the time she’s put in. I want her to see her be successful just as much as I want to be successful.”Winnipeg Sun
This begged the question though: Was New York really the place he wants to be? For a guy who wants to be closer to Florida, he could’ve really limited Winnipeg if they had allowed teams to speak with him about an extension. Thus making the return possibly even less than what they received.
Ultimately Winnipeg needed to make the move. With that said, they got a first rounder and a roster player in Neal Pionk. As far as the trade, he told the press that he could see himself playing in New York for a long time.
This was basically confirmed by Darren Dreger. He believed Trouba limited a trade to just a few teams. This worked in Gorton’s favor and the Rangers won the trade by a landslide.
Jeff Gorton would not have made this trade if he weren’t confident that Trouba would ink a long term deal with New York. Despite what Trouba said today a deal still needs to be hammered out. It isn’t a sure thing until a name gets signed on a dotted line.
Still this is a win-win for both parties since New York is closer to Florida than Winnipeg. There are other reasons that make the Blueshirts the perfect location for Trouba too. For one, he is very close to Brady Skjei, who will likely be next to him on the first pairing (assuming the Rangers succeed in signing Trouba, and they will).
In terms of where the Rangers are at this point in time, Trouba fits the mold better than anyone. They’re a team in the midst of rebuild trying to accelerate back into relevancy. A young powerhouse on the back-end is exactly the kind of player Jeff Gorton has been wanting.
Predicting the Contract
So what could a contract for Trouba look like? Well, the Rangers are going to look to lockup him for a long time. A big area of conflict between the Jets and Trouba a while ago was their inability to agree on a deal. This resulted in a bridge deal and salary arbitration. It could not be clearer that Trouba knows his value.
It’s still possible that his fiancé being in Florida might cause him to want a shorter deal to pursue a team down there, but that is an extreme long shot. I am presenting it for the sake of discussing multiple scenarios, not because I think that is the case. Trouba has friends in New York, is much closer to her now, and is going fit in perfectly.
Trouba is likely to get many years on his contract. He’ll be offered a seven year deal that would take him into his early 30’s. The specific salary of that deal could be a variety of numbers. On the low end, they could try to offer $7 million annually to lock him up, but that probably won’t be enough. The Rangers will likely be looking at $7.5 million to $8 million AAV. While this is unlikely, don’t be totally surprised if Gorton offers above $8 million to lock him down. The Rangers love this kid and will do anything to keep him in New York for a while.
Cap wise, the Rangers would still like to be active in the free agency market, which means they might need to finagle their other contracts a bit. With Trouba, Fox, and DeAngelo on the right side, Gorton is likely exploring his options with Shattenkirk. The ideal path would be to get him off the roster by trading him and retaining some salary. But if there are no takers, Shattenkirk may be bought out to make room for Trouba, the re-sign phase, and July 1st free agency.
Jacob Trouba is now a member of the Rangers organization, or at least his rights are. But there’s no doubt that he is ready to play and excited to be here. I would expect a contract to be agreed upon very shortly and for Kevin Shattenkirk’s unfortunate filled tenure in the Big Apple to come to an end.