The New York Rangers have cap space to add several impact players and Jacob Trouba could be exactly what the team needs.
The New York Rangers are uniquely positioned to add to their roster this offseason as they have a projected $19 million in cap space per CapFriendly. They also have the second overall pick, which places them in a prime position to land one of Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko.
The team does have some strong defensive players with prospects K’Andre Miller and the recently acquired Adam Fox joining Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo on the blue line. However, adding another defenseman would be very beneficial for the team’s next step.
Pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Erik Karlsson is an intriguing name, but thanks to age and injury concerns he might not be an ideal fit. However, one defenseman who could be available is Jacob Trouba and he would fit in nicely with the Rangers.
A Perfect Fit
Trouba scored a career-high 50 points last season, was credited with 112 hits, and has produced 0.44 points per game throughout his career, which equals a 36-point pace. While that isn’t a huge number, it’s the defense that makes the right-handed shot stand out.
He had a 4.0 defensive point share (DPS) and has had at least a 2.5 DPS every year of his NHL career despite beginning his career at 19. Many young players struggle defensively early in their careers, but Trouba has already established himself as a top-end shutdown defenseman despite being only 25.
The team needs a lockdown right side defenseman to pair with K’Andre Miller when he comes out of college. DeAngelo and Fox are both stronger offensively than defensively. Trouba can slot right in on the top pair and play heavy minutes for a Rangers team that desperately needs a strong defender.
He is a restricted free agent, however, teams rarely offer sheet players, so he would likely need to be acquired via trade. It would seem counterproductive for the Jets to trade a talented young defenseman while they have $26.5 million in cap space, but a deeper dive into their situation reveals why they would.
Is He Available?
Trouba has shown little interest in taking a discount to remain in Winnipeg, going so far as to hold out the beginning of the 2016-17 season until he got what he felt was a fair offer. He is UFA eligible after the next season, which forces Winnipeg to make a decision on him soon.
While they have the cap space to keep Trouba right now, they also need to sign RFAs Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, both of whom have been massive contributors for the team. While they could choose to give each of them bridge deals, it makes more sense to lock them up long term, as both have already proven they will be key pieces to the core of the Jets.
Next season, they will need to re-sign Josh Morrissey, Sami Niku and Jack Roslovic, and a decision will need to be made on Dustin Byfuglien the following year. So that $26 million that they have to play with will get tight very quickly, and tough decisions will be required.
Trouba has been rumored to be on the trade block for almost three seasons now, so it’s possible that he doesn’t fit into their future plans. Thus, the Rangers could potentially acquire him. The next question to ask is, of course, what will it cost them.
What It Would Cost
Conventional wisdom suggests that Chris Kreider, the team’s most valuable trade chip, could be of interest to the Jets. However, a Winnipeg team with Laine, Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little on the wings would probably be interested in spending the $4.6 million cap hit that Kreider possesses at other positions.
Winnipeg would probably be most interested in young players on entry-level positions, specifically at center, where the team has struggled to find depth behind Mark Scheifele. Thus, Lias Andersson and Brett Howden might be of interest to the Jets. Losing the former seventh overall pick would hurt, but Trouba is an impact player who fits nicely with the team’s timeline.
There are several ways a trade could materialize, but the most likely is as follows:
- Rangers receive: Jacob Trouba
- Jets receive: Lias Andersson, Brett Howden, 2018 first-round pick (20th overall), 2019 fifth round-pick.
The Rangers get their shutdown defenseman. The Jets get their first round pick from the Kevin Hayes trade back, as well as two solid young centers that can slot into the middle of their lineup and provide them with some much-needed depth.
Andersson was drafted for his floor more than his ceiling, and while it’s early to give up on a high pick, trading him for a player like Trouba isn’t giving up on him. He’s still a valuable asset who is going to be part of a center crunch on the Rangers and his middle six projection fits well with the Jets needs. Howden projects as a solid third line center who can fill out Winnipeg’s lineup and his 6-foot-3 frame fits well with a Jets team that likes big-bodied forwards.
Any trade would obviously need to be contingent on the Rangers reaching a long-term deal with Trouba, but that shouldn’t be an issue with the team’s cap space.
The cost might be high, but the New York Rangers would be getting a top pair shutdown defenseman who shoots right-handed. Jacob Trouba can spend the next decade locking down the blue line for the team.