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Photo Credit: © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Elephant in the Room: Jacob Trouba’s future

Apr 18, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) chases down a blocked shot by goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) in the second period of game two of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Since Jacob Trouba’s three-week holdout came to a close, the 22-year-old defenceman has put his money where his mouth is and has evolved into the Jets most valuable player. While number eight may not log as many minutes as Dustin Byfuglien’s league leading 27:26 minutes per night or lead the team’s ‘D’ core in scoring, he’s showcased his defensive ability while serving as a safety blanket for a Winnipeg Jets team that desperately needs one.

From the Jets back end down to the team’s prospect pool, the organization greatly lacks depth on the back end. Thus meaning that retaining Jacob Trouba on a long-term contract should be the team’s number one priority. With that said, can the Jets retain Trouba as Jet for the years to come?

Let’s not forget that before Trouba caved and returned to the Jets on a two-year bridge deal, he requested a trade out of Winnipeg.

Despite the fact that Trouba rescinded his trade request upon re-signing with the Jets, nothing ensures that Trouba is in for the long haul with the club. At the end of next season, Trouba will be an RFA once more. Now, if Trouba’s reasoning for wanting a leeway out of Winnipeg was for strictly hockey reasons, then it’d be hard pressed for him to justify jumping ship once more as an RFA. But if there are alternative off-ice reasonings that are the core reasoning for his desire to play elsewhere, the Jets and Trouba could find themselves in a contract stalemate once more.

No matter what Trouba may want, as long as the Jets hold his rights, they’ll try to avoid trading him for as long as they can. The Jets defensive depth is starting to become even thinner as time goes on. Tyler Myers’ injury issues and long-term health is worrisome and who knows how much longer Toby Enstrom can play at a top-four level. Ben Chiarot, Paul Postma and Mark Stuart have rotated to make up the teams bottom pair and it’s fair to say their performance has not been satisfactory.

With the Moose, things don’t look too bright on the horizon. Brian Strait hasn’t been the depth signing that he was supposed to be, Julian Melchiori’s NHL potential (and AHL effectiveness) is in serious doubt and Kevin Czuczman, the team’s best defenceman, isn’t on an NHL contract. In the prospect pipeline, Logan Stanley may be the team’s best prospect and that’s concerning in itself.

Retaining Jacob Trouba for the long-haul must be the Jets top priority. Even if the team has to overpay to ensure Trouba stays in Winnipeg, it’s well worth it.

Hypothetically, if Trouba refuses to re-open contract negotiations when this summer rolls around, the Jets are going to have a big problem on their hands. Getting equal (or more) value for Jacob Trouba in a trade won’t be an easy task for Kevin Cheveldayoff, who has been down that road once before.

For a draft and develop team like the Jets, holding on to the players you’ve drafted and helped develop is vital. A Jacob Trouba type defenceman won’t sign in a market like Winnipeg in the offseason and acquiring a top-four defenceman with a no-trade clause via trade wouldn’t be any easier for a team like Winnipeg. The Jets window is fast approaching and it’s time to accelerate the rebuild, rather than take a step backward. If the Jets were to trade Jacob Trouba, they’d be taking a step backwards.

The Jets could have some serious troubles finding a one for one type deal where the Jets would get a player in return for Trouba who has equal or more value than Trouba, which is a problem. The Jets don’t need a package of picks and prospects to compensate for Trouba, they need a legitimate top-end defenceman, who is preferably on the younger side of the spectrum. Any team that would be seeking Trouba would likely be needing a defenceman and be unwilling to give one up in return for Trouba.

The one bright side for the Jets is that Trouba’s value is at a high point if they had to deal him.

Not only is Trouba the Jets most reliable defender, his offenisve game is hitting it’s peak. Through 49 games, Trouba is scoring at a 0.53 point per game pace, his best offenisve season to date. Trouba’s trending upward in all aspects and the 22-year-old defenceman is a valuable commodity.

While the Jets have some security with Trouba’s value increasing, having to trade the youngster would be extremley damaging to the team.

When negotiations between Trouba and the Jets begin, the Jets need to give Trouba an offer he can’t resist. The Jets need a young up-and-coming piece like Trouba on their back end for years to come. If there is an situation to start using up more cap space;

It’s for Jacob Trouba.