Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is one of the most talented restricted free agents participating in the World Cup without a contract for the coming season, and while his contract status has led to speculation that Trouba could be headed elsewhere before the 2016-17 campaign begins, Trouba says not so fast.
Following Team North America’s final World Cup tune up game Wednesday, Trouba told the Winnipeg Free Press’ Paul Wiecek that when it comes to inking a deal for the upcoming season, there isn’t much concern right now. In fact, he went so far as to say that “in (his) mind” there’s not much doubt he’ll be suiting up in Winnipeg come October. That doesn’t mean Trouba sees a deal as imminent, though.
"I’m not too into the contract stuff right now," Trouba, 22, told Wiecek. "I’m here focused on [Team North America] and I will let my agent deal with [my contract]. And once this tournament is over, we’ll figure that out.”
And figuring it out is all Jets fans want to see. As it stands, Trouba told Wiecek that his agent, Kurt Overhardt, is engaged in talks with Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, and that the two are “going back and forth and talking.” But that doesn’t mean Trouba is involved at all. Rather, he said he only wants to hear if anything important happens in the discussions.
That said, the trouble the Jets have been having with regard to Trouba’s contract are somewhat worrisome, if only because there’s a number of issues. The biggest, of course, are term and dollars.
Speculation has been that Trouba is looking for a long-term, big-money contract extension, and he could be seeking to become one of the higher paid young defensemen in the league. Recent contract extensions for players such as Tyson Barrie, Danny DeKeyser, Torey Krug and Seth Jones all carried a cap hit upwards of $5 million per season and could offer a comparable framework, but Trouba could be seeking an even higher wage if he’s staying long-term.
However, while term and money are always two of the biggest factors in any contract negotiation, Trouba made it clear that he’s after more than just a pay day. The issue of usage has reportedly been an important one for Trouba in this negotiation, though that’s something that is up to coach Paul Maurice, not Cheveldayoff, to rectify.
"I want to have a bigger role," Trouba told Wiecek. "I want to be a force — more productive offensively and defensively. I just want to be more involved and take my game to the next level.”
Trouba has spent much of his time over the past two seasons playing alongside Mark Stuart, and when he moves up the lineup he’s had to switch over to play on the left side. Trouba, a righty, prefers playing on the right and he said it’s where he’s most comfortable, but acknowledged that playing on the left side isn’t a problem if he’s doing it for the good of the club.
The results have actually favored Trouba moving up the lineup regardless of which side he’s playing, too. When he’s playing in the top-four with the likes of Dustin Byfuglien or Tyler Myers, Trouba has been much more productive and a better play driver. Those are important things for the Jets to consider, and no doubt something Trouba wants to pursue further.
With less than a month until the start of the campaign, though, the Jets and Trouba still have some ground to cover. But that Trouba doesn’t seem pessimistic about his chances of suiting up on opening night could bode well for Winnipeg.
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