It was the news that all Jets fans were anxiously awaiting for the past several weeks; Jacob Trouba has a new deal for the upcoming season. While most fans envisioned Trouba signing a long term deal to stay in Winnipeg for the next six years or so, this wasn’t the case as the deal was finalized through arbitration and a one year contract was awarded.
Even though the deal is done and there is a contract in place for the upcoming season, there is plenty more to unpack with the entire situation. This idea of this post is take a look at the arbitration process as well as the implications moving forward for both Trouba and the Jets organization. Part one will look at the more immediate impact of Trouba’s arbitration ruling and how it affects the upcoming season. Part two will be based on the implications moving further into the future and how this ruling could affect the Jets for years down the road.
The first and most important thing to mention about the arbitration process is that we have no idea what actually went on in the meeting. This means we have no idea what evidence was used by either side to present their arguments. This also means we don’t know if things got heated or if they were calm and collected throughout the whole day. Even though fans claim to know what was going on in the boardroom, there are just too many unknowns to accurately guess what went on for the 5+ hour process.
I too, sat in on the Trouba arbitration negs and know exactly how it went down.
— John Malloy (@JMall95) July 22, 2018
That is, unless you’re Randy Turner and have the inside scoop with the hearing.
We now go live to Jacob Trouba arbitration hearing, already in progress….
Overhardt (to Chevy): You want answers?
Chevy: I think I'm entitled to.
Overhardt: You want answers?!!
Chevy: I WANT THE TROUBA!
Overhardt: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TROUBA!
(i apologize for nothing)
— randy turner (@randyturner15) July 20, 2018
Implications for Trouba
The entire arbitration hearing and ruling obviously has the most implications for Trouba himself. First of all, Trouba didn’t sign a long term deal which could have been for a variety of reasons. It is entirely possible that Trouba thinks he will have a breakout season and be worth much more next summer. If that is the case, there is no reason for him to sign a long term deal at $6 million if he can get a long term deal next year for $6.5-7 million. It is also possible that Trouba still does not want to play in Winnipeg. If this is the real reason he won’t sign long term, there isn’t much the Jets can do as Trouba can go through arbitration again next year before becoming a UFA in two seasons.
The nature of a one year deal also means that this is a contract year for Trouba. It seems as though most players elevate their play during a contract year as there is much more on the line with a new contract hanging in the balance. This is even more important for Trouba as he will specifically want to improve on the areas of weakness identified during the arbitration hearing. If Trouba majorly improves in his weaker areas, his arbitration case will be much stronger next summer and he could be in for an even larger deal.
Even though the new contract is only for 2018-19, Trouba is still controlled for another season after that which means he would have to go through the exact same process one more time before finally qualifying as a UFA in two years. The only way for Trouba to get out of Winnipeg before that is via trade, which might prove difficult given the pieces Cheveldayoff would want in return. Trouba might have to increase his trade value if a deal is going to get done within the next two years.
The arbitration process went great from Trouba’s perspective because he still makes $5.5 million which is probably similar to what Cheveldayoff was offering anyways, but he doesn’t have to commit for such a long term. This gives Trouba the freedom to decide if he wants to leave in two years or if he wants to sign a major extension next season. Trouba was able to keep his options open down the road and get an impressive raise which seems like an ideal outcome for his situation.
Perhaps the biggest implication of the arbitration ruling is the negative reputation of Trouba for most fans.
Possible reasons Jacob Trouba is considered the bad guy among fans:
– Said he wanted trade in Sept. 2016.
– Held out until Nov. in 2016
– Said he wanted to sign long-term in 2018
– Hasn't signed long-term in 2018
– Reportedly wants (too?) many dollars – 2016-present#NHLJets
— Scott Billeck (@ScottBilleck) July 21, 2018
After the debacle of two years ago, Trouba has been saying the right things and acting as though he is committed to the city. Most people hoped that Trouba would sign a long term deal which would essentially rectify the past and give a fresh start.
The holdout from two years ago coupled with the recent signing struggles contributes to the negative persona that Trouba is self-centered and arrogant. This is why when talking to casual fans and discussing who their favorite players are, the names are fairly predictable. There are Scheifele supporters and Laine fans, but rarely does anybody think of Trouba as their favorite player. The arbitration process likely hurt Trouba’s reputation even more and gives him a very slim chance to ever repair the relationship with the fans.
Implications for teammates
While the arbitration process has the biggest impact on Trouba himself, there is certain to be a ripple effect throughout the locker room as well. The main impact this situation will have on the team is through a potential trade. If Trouba is not willing to sign long term this season or next season, he will look to test the free agent waters after that. With a two year clock starting to tick down the Jets might have to think about trading Trouba or else risk losing him for nothing as a free agent.
A year of Jacob Trouba trade proposals can’t wait
— Ryan Browning (@DJ_Biff_WPG) July 22, 2018
Although a trade isn’t as imminent as some other situations around the league (Karlsson, Panarin), the idea can still permeate the locker room and have some interesting consequences. The first aspect that needs to be mentioned is the other players’ attitudes towards Trouba. If Trouba doesn’t want to be in Winnipeg, it might put a strain on his relationship with his teammates. It has the potential to make him an outcast on road trips and other team outings. Even though this might not affect his playing ability, it could harbor a sense of uncertainty for the entire team.
The second aspect that might change is the actual lineup. If the Jets really want to increase Trouba’s value they need to increase his usage and put him on the power play to let him score more points. This would mean other players would lose some playing time if Trouba’s usage increases.
The opposite effect might also happen this season. If there is no long term plans for Trouba then other players might get a chance to prove their worth. Maybe Poolman gets increased minutes to see whether or not he can handle an increased workload down the road. Maybe Morrissey plays with a different partner for some games to get used to a different teammate moving forward.
The last potential impact for the teammates is if Trouba is actually traded away. This would drastically change the locker room dynamic as it would be a substantial trade for both parties. The Jets would be bringing in new faces and everyone would have to adjust to a new teammate on and off the ice. Even though most of the impact of this signing is for Trouba, the ripples will certainly reach the locker room as well.
Implications for the 2018-19 salary cap
While the arbitration process has an impact on both Trouba and his teammates, it also has a large impact on the team salary cap. In regards to the short term, the actual contract is a fairly good deal for the Jets. They have a dependable defenseman who plays big minutes locked in at only $5.5 million. This means the Jets have plenty of room to get their other RFA’s signed and the depth sorted out.
In the short run, this is a cap-friendly deal for Winnipeg (if you've been following at The Athletic you expected this.)
2018-19 thus becomes massive for the WPG and IMO their best play is to let the cap space prorate, then go big partway through. Very much a win now team.
— Murat (@WPGMurat) July 22, 2018
Had the Jets signed Trouba to a long term deal it most likely would have been at a premium because the Jets would have had to ‘buy’ a few of his UFA years. Usually this comes at a high price so the Jets most likely would have spent more money on Trouba if they signed him for an extended term compared to this one year ruling of $5.5 million.
This contract also gives the Jets plenty of control in the future. The cap crunch will most likely get even tougher next year as both Wheeler and Laine need new contracts so it’s important that the Jets keep as much flexibility as possible with their roster. Being able to control Trouba for another two years is an important step to staying under the salary cap and still having a strong team for the foreseeable future.
Even though the Jets would have liked to sign Trouba to a long term deal, the immediate impact of the arbitration ruling is actually a good thing. It gives the Jets more flexibility down the road while still allowing Trouba to have a positive impact during the upcoming season.