Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff held the upper hand in negotiations with restricted free agent defenseman Jacob Trouba, and Cheveldayoff’s patience has paid off.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Monday that Trouba has agreed to terms on a two-year, $6-million contract. The breakdown of the contract, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, is a pro-rated $2.5 million salary in the first year and an increase to $3.5 million in the second season.
The timing couldn’t be better for the Jets, either, as Trouba’s bridge deal comes at a time when Winnipeg could use the young rearguard back in their lineup.
The saga between Trouba and the Jets has been ongoing since well before the start of the off-season, but it wasn’t until weeks before the start of the campaign that Trouba shockingly requested a trade, citing a lack of opportunity to play as a right-side defenseman. When the trade request was announced, Trouba’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, said in a statement that no negotiations had gone on between the two sides for several months and that he had “been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights.”
Rumors have since swirled of potential suitors for Trouba, but Winnipeg hasn’t swung a deal, nor has anything ever appeared all that imminent with regard to a trade. Cheveldayoff held fast in saying he wanted a player of equal ability to Trouba if the Jets were going to trade the promising defenseman, and nothing came to fruition.
It’s not all that surprising, either, that Trouba has decided to sign a deal with no trade on the horizon. If he didn’t get back into the lineup soon, he was risking sitting out the entire campaign and no one outside of the Jets — not Trouba, not his agent — had much in the way of negotiating power.
The value of the contract may seem low for Trouba given that there had been talk of a potential five-year deal worth in the $5.5-million range per season, but the short-term deal gives both the player and team the chance to see how things go over the course of this season and next. While it’s not the long-term deal the Jets wanted, it’s a bridge deal that can be favorable for both sides. It also gives Trouba a chance to prove he’s worth every cent — and every top-pairing, right-side minute — that he’s after.
Trouba has been one of the most promising pieces in Winnipeg over the past three seasons, and though his offense has taken a dive since his rookie campaign, his ability to play solid at both ends of the ice has been sorely missed by the Jets. In each of the past three seasons, Trouba has averaged upwards of 22 minutes of ice time per game, and with Tyler Myers currently out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, there’s real potential for Trouba to come back and skate alongside either Dustin Byfuglien or Toby Enstrom.
It’s to be seen, of course, what kind of immediate impact Trouba can have for the Jets, but it’s worth noting that Winnipeg’s issue early in the season hasn’t been an inability to score but rather their leaky defense. That issue has been exacerbated by the absence of Myers, who has missed the past four games, but the problems go beyond that. Through 13 games, Winnipeg has allowed 3.15 goals against per game, and only six teams in the league has fared worse.
This puts an end to the contentious situation between the Jets and Trouba for now, but it won’t be the last of the situation altogether. Come July 1, Winnipeg can start talking contract with Trouba once again, and if there’s no hope of a long-term deal by that time, the Trouba trade talk could spark once again.
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