Don’t let point totals fool you: Trouba has been getting better and better

There has been some talk out there about Jacob Trouba not developing as one would hope, or that he has failed to live up to his rookie season hype. This could not be further from the truth.

Some of this has been driven by a Trouba’s point totals falling or him playing a less visually-noticeable dynamic game, while another part may come from his permanent role in Mark Stuart babysitting hurting him.

Let’s take a look into how Jacob Trouba has slowly grown into one of the more effective two-way defenders in the NHL.

Why Trouba’s Scoring Dropped

People were pretty excited for the young defender hailing from Rochester Michigan after putting up 29 points in a 65 game, injury-shortened, season. The next year Trouba only put up 22 points in the same number of games, and then only scored 21 over a nearly full 81 game season for 2015-2016.

The perception of success and development issues likely began with unreasonable expectations being set from the start with inflated on-ice and personal shooting percentages.

The Jets scored on a likely unsustainable 10 percent of shots on goal with Trouba on the ice for his rookie season, which dropped to a more sustainable 8.5 percent the following two seasons. This has caused a fall in goals scored while Trouba is on the ice that he can pick up assists from, despite the Jets actually generating more scoring chances per minute than they did prior with Trouba on the ice.

In addition, Trouba assisted on 30 percent of the goals the Jets scored while he was on the ice for 5v5 minutes. This number dropped to 24 percent the next season, and then 15 percent this past year. It’s likely that Trouba will bounce back here, although one should not expect much more than mid-twenties for sustainable results.

The excitable rookie defender was often caught up with offensive rushes, finding himself a few meters from the net, picking up a few goals, and putting up a fairly high personal shooting percentage of 8.3 for all minutes. He’s since cleaned up his risk game, and while the overall impact has been positive from this change, his career shooting percentage has dropped to 6.4 percent, after a 4.5 and 5.0 shooting percentage seasons.

One of the other primary factors has been a drop in power play usage. In his rookie season, Trouba averaged about 2.0 minutes of power play ice time per 60 minutes of team play. This dropped each successive year with the acquisition of Tyler Myers (despite Myers being a very poor power play defender option) with Trouba averaging about 1.2 minutes of power play ice time per 60 minutes of team play.

Over the past two seasons, Myers and Trouba have scored an identical 9 points on the power play, despite Myers receiving nearly an extra 60 percent share of power play ice time.

Two-Way Game Improvement

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As mentioned earlier, the change in Trouba’s play has been for the better for the Jets, despite it hurting his personal scoring numbers.

The graph above shows the Jets expected share of 5v5 goals over a 25 game rolling average when Trouba is on the ice versus when he’s on the bench. In other words, this shows how often the Jets have done better with Trouba on the ice than the average alternative. The right-shot defender each season has spent less and less time below zero, and has been better each season on average than the last.

shotprog

First four columns are score, venue, and zone adjusted courtesy of Corsica, while the final two are simply 5v5 courtesy of Hockey Analysis.

At a surface level, it almost looks as though Trouba actually peaked last season in the two-way numbers. This is the season where Trouba had his best shot differential (Corsi), expected goal differential (xGoals), and unblocked shot differential (Fenwick).

These numbers do not take into account team quality effects though, and when we look at the relative numbers the story changes slightly. In relative Corsi (Jets share of all shots with Trouba on ice versus on bench) we see that the Jets do moderately better with Trouba on the ice. This progression though does not account for blocked shots, which is a larger part of a defender’s performance than it is for a forward.

Expected Goals and Fenwick do account for blocked shots, and we see a more positive and consistent growth curve there. The relative Fenwick model above is slightly different than the relative Corsi or xGoals model.

The relative Fenwick model is relative to teammates, which instead of Jets with Trouba on the ice versus on the bench, looks at the weighted average of Trouba’s linemates with him versus without him. In many ways, this model is a check to see of Trouba’s positive relative numbers from the other models are due to Trouba’s performance or his linemates pulling him up.

In short, Trouba’s progression seems to be a fairly consistent and positive one in the two-way numbers when you account for team performance and quality of linemates.

The Mark Stuart Effect

Speaking of linemates, we cannot talk about Jacob Trouba without looking at the impact of linemates on the eyetest, results, and opportunity.

First off, I want to mention that the eyetest is in-fact impacted by usage just like the numbers are. The weaker your team and linemates are, the tougher your usage is, and the more time you spend in the defensive zone, the more opportunities you have to make errors in the defensive zone.

Due to heuristics, the human mind tends to remember the big, flashy events more often than the small common pieces that adds up to significant impact. A mistake in a defensive zone is more likely to end up a goal against than one in the offensive zone. A good play in the offensive zone is more likely to end up a goal for than one in the defensive zone. A mistake is still a mistake, and a good play is still a good play, but not all will be remembered equally.

For the most part, Trouba has played in one of two different situations: with good players while on his offhand side or on his natural side with Mark Stuart.

We know for a fact that being on ones offhanded side has a quantifiable negative impact on the results for a defender (see work by Matt Cane and Domenic Galamini). But, we also know full well that Mark Stuart has a severely negative impact on the results for any one he plays with.

So, when we look at how the the results split with and without Stuart for Jacob Trouba, we have to remember that Trouba is also playing away from Stuart in a non-optimal situation:

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Trouba scoring increases by about 24 percent when away from Mark Stuart. If we extrapolate Trouba’s point pace without Stuart over his career minutes, his 5v5 point totals jump from 42 to 48, an increase of 14 percent. Give Trouba the extra power play icetime that was given to Myers, and Trouba gains an extra 9-10 points to his 72 point career totals.

This is not that surprising, as the Jets are generating about 7 percent more shot volume when Trouba is away from Stuart than when the two are together. Not only do the Jets improve in shot volume, but also suppression, as the Jets allow 5 percent fewer shots against per sixty minutes of play.

In the end, the Jets control a larger share of shots, while also controlling a larger share of goals. Not shown here is that the Jets expected share of goals (which adds shot quality to quantity component) suggests a similar gap with the duo being an xGoal% of 50.5 together, but Stuart and Trouba posting 48.0 and 53.0 when apart.

This improvement all happened despite Trouba playing on his offhanded side for most of that time.

The Jets outshot their opponents by 7.93 shots per sixty minutes with Trouba away from Stuart; however, we expect that result to be depreciated by two right-shot defenders playing together by about 2.05 shots per sixty minutes. This would mean Trouba’s “true talent” performance away from Stuart is likely closer to 54.3 percent Corsi rather than the 53.5 percent we observed.

  • Eddie O rules!

    This is all well and good, but how is the team going to keep all of Byfuglin, Meyers, AND Trouba considering its current cap situation. Not to mention the contract it will need to hand out to Laine?

    Hall and the Oilers 4th for Trouba and the 2nd?

    • Laine won’t get paid big money for quite some while, and when he does he will earn it and the cap will also be much higher, so Myers and Byfuglien won’t be as big of a deal.

      Meanwhile you are trying to send Hall, who is paid more than Trouba will be. Also, Myers has a far lower salary than his Cap, and salary is a bigger deal to the Jets than cap is.

      When time comes, the Jets can make cap decisions like they did with Ladd vs Byfuglien this last season, but until then there is no reason to do something like that trade.

    • BuffsBetter

      Laine contract is 3 years down the road. Why would you deal with that issue now? MK who would more than likely be drafted at #4 would also need a contract than. Myers contract will be up than.

      Myers actual salary is 4 mil than 3 mil. If Trouba plays his offside, and an eventual top 4 of Buff – Trouba – Myers – Morrisey plays out i would be very happy with that.

      And we have the best cap situation in the league, considering quality of talent, and available space.

      That trade fixes nothing, and seems completely irrational.

      Sign Trouba at his perceived market value of 4.5 – 5 Mil per over 6 – 8 years. If he is kept away from the Anchor that is Stuart you easily get your money out of that deal. no bridge deals please, a player of his caliber will end up getting over paid after the bridge deal expires.

  • MyDogHasScheifeles

    That previous article hit the nail on the head. Trouba needs to be signed to a two year prove it bridge deal. That will give the team more of an opportunity to watch him develop into the player they hope he can be.
    You realize the salary cap is in no jeopardy when you look at the term left on veterans Perreault Stafford and Pavs. Two maybe all three of these guys will not be with the Jets to start 2017. We have 12 million tied to them. Peluso and Thorburn and Postma carry another 3 million. You could replace those 6 guys with players earning entry level contracts and save 10 million by doing that.
    Chevy has a full cupboard of prospects and the spots in the line up will be there for the taking. It is an exciting time for Jets fans. This off season has been the most fun since we received word the Jets were coming back.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    Jets desperately need 2 LH shooting D-men.

    There are TONs of UFA’s (and a few thousand kgs of RFA’s) that fit the bill and are out there.

    Chevy even said he’s “definitely interested” in dipping into the UFA market this year.

    Let’s hope that is what he intends to do.

    Enstrom/Myers

    LH/Buff

    LH/Trouba

    Stuart retires

    Problem solved

    • BuffsBetter

      Why wouldn’t you put Trouba and Buff together, while their sample size was small the underlying numbers were nothing short of amazing.

      Run Postma as our 3rd RD.

      • #12MorrisLukowich

        No.

        If you had the option, why wouldn’t you send out Myers, Buff & Trouba with appropriate LH D-men ? Why force one to play their offwing when there are so many UFA LH options out there ?

        small example:
        Nikitin
        Kyle Quincey
        Gunnarsan
        Medvedev
        Russel
        Bartkowski

        all UFA LH Dmen at or under 30 and not that expensive…

        guys like:
        Jeff Schutz
        Mark Fraser
        Mark Irwin
        Strait

        CHEAP, young LH D-men

        It just makes NO sense to force a good 3rd pairing RH D-man onto the left side when he shoots right

        • BuffsBetter

          Trouba is 5x the defender any of those guys are, on his offside. Trouba is better than a 3rd pairing guy. Not forcing him either, he was fine with it. If you look up his underlying numbers he played great on both Buff and Myers LH side. Your logic is flawed.

          Trouba will get 4 – 5 mil per year, to much for a 3rd pair. And if your going to replace him with a LHD atleast make sure that LHD can play the postion better than Trouba.

          • #12MorrisLukowich

            OK BuffsBetter…unless your Jacob Trouba’s mom, I personally don’t see a 5 fold increase in Trouba’s ability compared to the LHD who I described.

            As a matter of fact…his “ability” is declining

            He gets caught a lot (thank-you Buff/Stuart) and doesn’t pinch enough (thank-you Buff/Stuart) But that’s to be expected when you are forced to play your off position.

            “We know for a fact that being on ones offhanded side has a quantifiable negative impact on the results for a defender” Thank-you Garret…

            Maybe you haven’t noticed, but Trouba’s #’s are rapidly declining since he has moved to his off side…ridiculously declining…

            Trouba is much more EFFECTIVE when playing his natural position

            $4-5 mil. for a player who is FORCED to play a position he’s not apt is pure folly…

        • Trojanrabbit155

          If you send out Myers, Buff & Trouba all with LH D-men than one of those aforementioned players will obviously end up with 3rd line minutes. So which one?

          Obviously it won’t be Buff…so is it between Trouba and Myers as to who plays on the third defensive pairing? Better solution by far is what the Jets are currently doing and that is by playing Trouba on his off-hand side with Buff and allowing Morrisey to break in on the third line…until Enstom’s contract is up (appx. 2 years).

  • FishWhiskey

    “Buy on mystery, sell on history”. Our little Jacob is going full force on marketing the mystery of how great he could be if not for all of the handicaps he has been forced to play with in Winnipeg.

    I for one call BS on him and his skanky agent Kurt Overhardt. Trouba has done bugger all except soak up the over generous hype handed out by an organization, fan base and local media that has given him every support and benefit of the doubt.

    The Jets believed in him, drafted him and nurtured him in the hope that he would reciprocate by doing what was best for the team on the road to a Stanley Cup and then reap the rewards earned and justified. Instead he is now he is trying to extort a bigger salary than Brent Burns or Eric Karlsson before he has achieved anything above gaining a reputation as a party boy?

    It makes me sad because the Jets set out to be known as a “loyal organization” but were taken advantage of by shysters like Alan Walsh with Pavelec’s contract and handing out 11 million dollar term contracts to bums like Stuart. Now vultures like Overhardt think they can do the same? I just hoped that Jacob Trouba was above trying to take advantage of a young management team growing and evolving and hopefully learning through their own mistakes.

    Of equal concern is that players like Frolik, Ladd and Trouba seem to be saying that unless they are paid well above their “pay grade” they will not play for the Jets. You guys can argue this and I know you will but this suggests that those players think that Chippy, Chevy and PoMo are idiots and sticking around for the fiasco is going to cost big.

    Please lets put aside the idea that the city of Winnipeg is a deterrent to player loyalty. The only people who don’t realize how great a city Winnipeg is are those who have never been there or those who have never left. Players want to play for a “boss” organization even if it is in Green Bay Wisconsin, Detroit Michigan or Winnipeg Manitoba.(If the Jets are, in fact, one) and that’s up to Jets management to prove.

    The moves that Chevy and co. make with Trouba and Scheifele can “put paid” to past mistakes and define the future of the team for a decade. If those two players sign to equitable and team friendly contracts they will be giving the vote of approval to managements vision. I just hope that both sides are up too and deserving of that leap of faith.

    • Eddie O rules!

      Agents are scum… but they are doing their job. It’s a business and no way should or does any player feel the need to take less than the maximim they can get because of “loyalty”.

      • FishWhiskey

        You are talking through your hat brother. All player agents are not scum any more than all lawyers are snakes or all mechanics are crooks.

        Do your home work on Alan Walsh and Kurt Overhardt.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    Fish my brother…you said it all !

    No rebuttal necessary…

    GONE are the days of Don Baizley !

    All kind of maggots try to feed on the carcass now

    As long as the flies keep hatching, we’ll see more Walsh’s & Overhardts

  • MyDogHasScheifeles

    1- who is going to force Stuart to retire? Hmm?
    2- they do not desperately need the LH D man- it would be nice though. Morrissey may be on the roster this year, and in 2 years could be that 2nd pair LHer. IF Chevy can make a good deal for one, then he should, but there is no urgency.
    3 your scenario has Buff, Myers and Trouba all on the right side- and enough ice time for all 3 is currently a serious consideration.