Leafs Trade Target, Yet Another Trouble with Trouba Headline

Apr 7, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) looks to pass against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Winnipeg won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) looks to pass against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Winnipeg won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Winnipeg Jets unsigned RFA defenseman Jacob Trouba trouble, or due to his impending RFA signing deadline, should he be considered a Leafs Trade Target?

A great deal has been written about the Winnipeg Jets unsigned RFA defenceman Jacob Trouba, with many a headline utilizing the phonetic similarity between the player’s surname and the word “trouble”. This type of wordplay subtly implies that the following line of inquiry should at least be considered: Is Trouba trouble, or should he be a legitimate Leafs trade target?

Personally, I don’t think that Trouba is trouble, I feel the young man is simply misguided and will eventually have to settle for far less than he is seeking in both salary and where he plays in the future. More importantly we are coming to a time where he should be a priority as a Leafs Trade target, …let me explain.

The reason I make this contention is that pressure is building for both Trouba and the Jets.

When the Jets failed to re-sign Trouba upon the expiry of his entry level contract back in July, no one thought this impasse would go on this long. In reality, no one outside of the Jets management team knew of Trouba’s trade request as it was not made public at that time.

It became a different ballgame the minute Trouba announced his desire to be traded via his agent to the media this past September.

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The Jets management team, cognizant of their city’s small and isolated market do not want this type of player strategy to set a precedent and have played hard ball with Trouba right from the beginning. Their rigid stance is most notable in the almost absurd asking price for the unhappy defender’s services.

It has been widely reported that the Jets seek a defenceman with a left-handed shot who is similar in age, experience and skill level to Trouba. A slightly sarcastic “good luck with that” was the first thought entering my mind.

However, we all know how the game is played. The price can always be lowered in negotiations, but it is virtually impossible to start low and end up high.

Still, why would any team give up a player similar in age, experience and skill level to simply swap a lefty for a potentially problematic righty? Defenders of this skill level simply don’t grow on trees after all.

Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is no fool, he knows this is a tough asking price but he must set the bar high, he must make Trouba’s desired outcome virtually impossible to attain. The Jets want the 22 year old RFA on the ice, they also want to discourage any other players with similar ideas, which brings me to the mounting pressure I mentioned earlier.

Another aspect of Trouba’s position is that according to league rules, specifically the CBA, an RFA must sign before December 1st of any given season. The consequence of not doing so is that the player becomes ineligible to play in the NHL that season.

This deadline is only four weeks away!

Despite all of this, I want Trouba wearing a Leafs uniform. The high asking price should not discourage the idea of him becoming a Leafs trade target.

No, I haven’t lost my mind, that ship sailed years ago and yes, I know how cap strapped the Leafs are currently, but I also have confidence that Lou Lameriello can find a way.

Leafs Trade Target
Nov 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba (8) blocks a shot as he battles with Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (21) during the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

It has been reported that all of the Canadian teams are out of the running and that Trouba wants to play for a team State-side but hold on here, this is an RFA without a contract but more importantly, without a modified no trade clause. His leverage is extremely limited, he can’t pick and choose where he wants to play, Cheveldayoff holds all the cards.

What is at risk for Trouba is missing a year of NHL play at a critical time in his career. There is virtually nowhere he can play hockey in North America other than in non carded beer leagues and there is certainly no opportunity to earn any real money on this continent.

Never mind not wanting to play in Canada, how does he feel about Russia?

At this point you can almost hear the lyrics from the Rolling Stones classic “You can’t always get what you want” playing in the background, the volume incrementally being raised as every day passes. All of these factors may create a time sensitive opening for Trouba to become a Leafs trade target.

It has been said before but bears repeating: “Jacob,…. just ask Jonathan Drouin how sitting out went for him last season?

Working on the assumption that Trouba and his agent are now becoming more accepting of the stark reality he now faces and that Cheveldayoff wants to move on, the Leafs do have the assets to secure him. It may require parting with a roster player, some emerging talent, draft picks or a combination of all three, but the Leafs have these things to spare.

Especially at this juncture of their rebuild where selective player acquisitions should now be the focus over the scatter-gun approach of the previous year or so. The Jets have something else that the Leafs could use as well in six available Standard Player Contracts – having issued only 44 of their 50 SPC limit.

Now we are compelled to ask: As a Leafs trade target, how much would Trouba be worth and where in the Leafs defensive corps would he fit in?

We can begin by looking at his NHL stats over the previous three seasons.

  Jacob Trouba – NHL Totals – Salary: $???/? yrs
  GP  Goals  Assists  Points  PIM
  211  23  49  72  151

Not bad but also not awe inspiring when looking at other league comparables.

  Morgan Rielly – NHL Totals – Salary: $5,000,000/6 yrs
  GP  Goals   Assists  Points   PIM
  246  19  78  97  56
  Hampus Lindholm – NHL Totals – Salary: $5,250,000/6 yrs
  GP  Goals   Assists   Points  PIM
  236  23  69  92  108

This tells me that despite Trouba’s contract demands he is a “$5 millionish” AAV player and if he does not accept this fact he should think about learning to speak Russian.

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Where he would fit in as a Toronto Maple Leaf should be obvious. He is undoubtedly a top four, right shooting defenceman who would provide a one-two blue-line punch on the right side with Nikita Zaitsev. He may never be the proverbial “stud” defenceman that all contending teams need to have, but the Leafs have a few lefties coming up in the system who may fill that role.

I say pull out all of the stops and make Trouba a Leafs trade target – what are your thoughts?