Jacob Trouba update: 3 potential trades

Halfway through October and two games into the season, nothing seems to have changed between the Winnipeg Jets and Jacob Trouba.

With each passing game the pressure increases. Trouba is staring down a December 1st deadline: if he hasn’t signed a deal by that date, he’ll be unable to play anywhere in the league this season. Is moving to a team with greater opportunity on the right side worth risking a year over? Meanwhile, in the unforgiving Central Division, a handful of losses in the fall could mean watching the playoffs on TV in the spring. Can the Jets afford to leave Trouba sitting idle?

But if Kevin Cheveldayoff has proved anything at the helm of the Jets, it’s that he’ll wait — and wait, and wait — until the return he’s looking for presents itself. Read on after the jump for three trade options for Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets.

The Jets are looking for a scarce resource in return for Trouba: a young, left-shooting, top-four defenceman. They’re looking for Jacob Trouba’s reflection.

That return would be a huge boon to the Jets, allowing them to fill the gaping hole on the left side of their depth chart. Handedness matters: d partners who shoot the same way (like the Byfuglien-Trouba pairing from last season) typically allow almost seven more shot attempts per 60 minutes than a left-shot/right-shot pairing

Unfortunately, that drastically limits their trade options. There are few 22-year-old defencemen as talented as Jacob Trouba, and even fewer who are likely to be available by trade. Several of the teams rumoured to be in the hardest on Trouba, including the Avalanche and the Rangers, have no players matching the Jets’ preferred return. The answer might be a compromise. If they can’t exchange Trouba for an identical left-shot defenceman, they should still be able to build a deal around a lesser left-shot option.

All that said, here are three trade scenarios that could make sense for the Jets.

OPTION 1: TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Of all the possibilities, a swap with the Maple Leafs might make the most sense. Toronto’s two best defencemen — Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner — both shoot left. It’s hard to imagine the Leafs making Rielly available. He’s a favourite of Mike Babcock, a new alternate captain, and is playing tough minutes on the Toronto blueline.

But swapping Trouba for Gardiner would improve the balance on each blueline. Gardiner is locked up for three seasons at an inordinately reasonable $4.05 million AAV, after which he will be eligible to hit unrestricted free agency.

The biggest question mark for a Gardiner-Trouba deal is how each team values Jake Gardiner. Statistically, Gardiner looks like a true top-pairing defenceman. He makes the Leafs better by shot and goal metrics, and puts points on the board fairly efficiently.

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But until recently, Gardiner has been something of a lightning rod among the Maple Leafs fanbase. In the pre-Babcock era, he struggled to earn the trust of Toronto’s coaches, and was often criticized by Leafs fans. While statistically he is a no-brainer first-pairing defenceman, it’s probably fair to say that to most observers he looks like a second- or third-pair player.

As it so often is, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Gardiner isn’t Jacob Trouba, but he is a solid option who makes a positive impact on the ice. He would fit great as a left-side partner for either Myers or Byfuglien. 

The likely sticking point here is the extra piece(s) to the deal. What players, prospects or picks would the Leafs be willing to include to get the deal done? Some have suggested Gardiner+Nylander (not going to happen), while others contend the Leafs wouldn’t even do Gardiner alone for Trouba (equally unlikely.)

OPTION 2: EDMONTON OILERS

The initial chatter around a Winnipeg/Edmonton trade has died down, but they are one of the few teams for whom a d-man swap makes real sense. Here’s a list of the Oilers’ left-shot defencemen: 

  • Oscar Klefbom
  • Andrej Sekera
  • Darnell Nurse
  • Brandon Davidson
  • Kris Russell
And their right-shot defencemen:

  • Adam Larsson
  • Eric Gryba

As much as the Oilers may believe they’ve patched the leak with Russell, their blueline still needs fixing. The obvious target for the Jets is Oscar Klefbom. He’s 23 years old, has put up phenomenal possession numbers, and is signed for seven(!) seasons at just $4.2 million AAV. He doesn’t have Trouba’s resumé, but he fits the Jets’ positional needs on a great contract.

Unsurprisingly, the Oilers have little interest in trading Klefbom, and Edmonton fans have focused more on packages centred around Darnell Nurse or Brandon Davidson. Noooope.

OPTION 3: BOSTON BRUINS

Desperate for young bodies on the blueline, the Bruins have been rumoured to be interested in Trouba for just about forever. To get Trouba, though, Boston would have to give up their only good young defenceman in Torey Krug.

Krug is a 25-year-old offensive specialist, playing (and crushing) sheltered minutes for the Bruins.

He would do wonders for the Jets’ powerplay, but Krug isn’t an ideal fit with the Jets at even-strength. Neither Byfuglien nor Myers are the type of dependable two-way players that would make for a trustworthy partnership. Still, Krug is an effortless puck-mover who would help out the Jets’ young forward group in transition, and be an enormous improvement on Winnipeg’s left-side defence group.

It’s not the most natural fit, but it would make the Winnipeg blueline so much fun.


Those are far from the only three options available to the Jets. As every insider report has mentioned, when a player of Trouba’s ilk becomes available, every team in the league comes calling. But Cheveldayoff has a well-earned reputation for patience, and so if he wants to wait for a left-shot defencemen, that’s what the Jets are likely to do. 

For what it’s worth, here are a few others who might be on Chevy’s radar:

  • Nick Leddy (thumbs up emoji)
  • Danny DeKeyser (poop emoji)
  • Ben Hutton (pink hearts emoji)
  • Brayden McNabb (thinking dude emoji)
  • Olli Maatta (penguin emoji)

In a fun (read: not that fun) twist for the Jets, several of the teams most interested in Trouba lack the type of player the Jets are targeting. Those teams include the Rangers, Coyotes, and Avalanche. It would be against the Chevy M.O. to settle for anything less than their exact target in a Trouba deal, but maybe they make a creative offer worth considering.

At this point, putting the pieces together on a Trouba deal will be huge for all parties. Letting a player as valuable as Jacob Trouba sit on his thumbs at home is handicapping the Jets as they try to get back to the playoffs. Meanwhile, his reputation is only continuing to take a hit as he misses games.

Whatever your feelings about Kevin Cheveldayoff, his patience is undeniably impressive. But it’s time to trade Jacob Trouba, even if that means getting back less than the left-hand point man they’re waiting for.

  • Mack Irwin

    Don’t forget, there’s Hamphus Lindholm collecting dust on an Anaheim team that can’t afford what he’s worth. Of course, if they can’t afford Lindholm, they can’t afford Trouba, either, but it makes for many interesting possibilities.

    Someone picks up Lindholm for picks and propsects, and then flips him for Trouba to us. Or we grab Lindholm, leveraging some of our prospect depth, and then can trade Trouba for whatever, whenever.

    • Mack Irwin

      Lindholm is unreal. I only didn’t include him because Bobby Mac and Friedman seem to think there’s no chance he gets traded. Think Anaheim really like him and want him long-term.

      • Dr. Rocktopus

        True… But Winnipeg really likes Trouba and wants (or wanted?) him long-term, too. Yet here we are. It may not be the most likely scenario, but it’s certainly plausible that the building pressure might shake something loose on the Lindholm front.

      • Matthew Literovich

        Could the Jets offer sheet Lindholm? I’m a bit ignorant about how that works, but if the Ducks have to either match the offer sheet or accept the pick compensation, and the cap prevents the Ducks from matching, do they just have to surrender Lindholm for the picks? How hard is the cap?

        • Mack Irwin

          Yeah, the Jets could try to pinch the Ducks on an offer sheet for Lindholm.

          The cost (for a sheet between 5.5 and 7.5 mill) would be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder, and the Ducks would have a chance to make some moves to clear cap space if they wanted to match the offer, but at seven mill+, decent chance they would just let him go to the Jets. Then you can trade Trouba without worrying so much about getting a LHD back.

          Too bad GMs never use offer sheets.

  • Dr. Rocktopus

    Mack Irwin has not presented any trade options that would help the Jets. I certainly hope that Chevy doesn’t trade for Gardiner. He is a 26 year old d-man that plays like he is a 19 year old rookie. He makes the same mistakes over and over. The Oilers d-men are horrible and the other names mentioned in this article would not improve the Jets.

  • FlamesRock

    I am just wondering what some jets fans think of what Don said about trouba wanting to be traded cause he doesn’t like living in Winnipeg? I don’t understand why that would be the problem, but then again I love me some winter

  • FlamesRock

    I don’t think it’s time to trade Trouba for a lesser return. Letting him sweat to the Dec 1 deadline and giving him a 1-2 year contract to basically ‘play to get traded’ is the most likely option and I think it is also the most beneficial scenario for the Jets. I like your article, but disagree with the conclusion.

  • Matthew Literovich

    Stevie Y set the bar high for patience with Drouin. Hope Chevvy has the same fortitude to see this through with Trouba.

    That said, Ducks have a cap problem as soon as they sign Lindholm. Think Fowler is a lefty.

    Ducks could trade for Trouba in exchange for Folwer and a young gun (Ritchie) and flip Trouba for other assets.

    Any right thinking Pegger take that deal?