Jacob Trouba already sounds ready for Rangers long-term commitment
This was as much a life decision as it was a hockey decision, and the Rangers ended up being the beneficiary — and might be for a long time.
The Blueshirts acquired 25-year-old righty-shot defenseman Jacob Trouba in a trade with the Jets in a slick move from general manager Jeff Gorton on Monday night that sent back defenseman Neal Pionk and the No. 20-overall pick — which had been obtained from Winnipeg in February’s deal that sent Kevin Hayes to the Jets as a rental.
Trouba is set to be a restricted free agent (with arbitration rights), but signing a long-term deal in Winnipeg never seemed to be an option. Not only was the Jets’ salary-cap crunch an issue, but also playing a big part in the decision was the fact that Trouba’s fiancee, Kelly Tyson, is on her way to becoming a doctor.
With far more opportunities in New York than in Manitoba, the move seemed to make sense.
“Most athletes are just athletes, but there are other goals I have in life,” Trouba said on a conference call Tuesday morning. “I want to be a husband and a father, all that stuff. Her career is important. She’s worked extremely hard to get where she is and I want to see the best for her as much as she wants to see the best for me, and we wanted to find a way that we can both be successful in our careers while living together and achieving other goals we have in life outside of our careers.
“There are other places she could do it. Obviously New York is a great place for her, a great place for a lot of things. It was definitely important to me — both of us, I guess.”
Despite Winnipeg GM Ken Cheveldayoff not allowing any interested parties to speak to Trouba’s agent about contract extensions before the deal was made — thus seemingly scaring off a few suitors — the Rangers and Gorton were confident they can get a deal done. It will likely be in the seven- or eight-year range, somewhere around $8 million per.
It was something that Trouba can see happening this week before the NHL draft this weekend in Vancouver.
“Everything is definitely on the table,” he said. “I can see myself being in New York for a long time.”
Gorton still has quite a few cards to play before the first round commences on Friday night. Winger Pavel Buchnevich is a restricted free agent, and his name has been batted around trade rumors along with Jimmy Vesey and Vlad Namestnikov. The biggest name — with the biggest financial implications — would be Chris Kreider, the 28-year-old power forward who has one more year left on his deal at $4.625 million, with a pricey extension or a trade being the most likely scenarios before training camp begins in September.
But in terms of Gorton’s rebuilding process — now under the stewardship of team president John Davidson — the addition of Trouba was an accelerant. The swap essentially was moving Hayes (as a rental) and Pionk while receiving Trouba and rugged winger Brendan Lemieux (who is a restricted free agent likely to re-sign) in return.
Trouba grew up in Michigan, went to the U.S. Developmental Program — where he became good friends with current Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei — and, after the Jets drafted him with the No. 9-overall pick in 2012, played one year at the University of Michigan. His first pro season was 2013-14, and he had his best statistical season this past year, notching eight goals and 42 assists while playing all 82 games.
“I was happy with how I played,” Trouba said. “I think there is more there. I think I have more I can achieve, more I want to achieve; another level in my game that I think I can get to.”
Now the Rangers are going to give him the opportunity to do that, while New York is going to give his family the opportunity to grow.
“We want to have a life together and live together, and her career is just as important as my career,” Trouba said. “So this is a pretty good situation for both of us.”
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