The biggest news to hit the NHL universe this offseason came a little over a week ago when Kurt Overhardt, Jacob Trouba’s agent, announced that they have asked the Winnipeg Jets for a trade. The official statement from Overhardt is here:
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) September 24, 2016
It is stated in the announcement that Trouba wants to be traded because he “wants the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.” Recently, Trouba has been playing the left side of the blue line with either Dustin Byfuglien or Tyler Myers on the right side.
Trouba has good size that allows him to play a physical game, but he is also a good skater with a solid shot. With the Jets, he was averaging about 22 minutes of ice time per-game in a top-four role and was used on the power play, and penalty kills, as well. In a nutshell, Trouba is a young top-four defenseman with a ton of potential and is the exact type of player the Bruins need to land to boost their defensive unit.
In fact, the Bruins were thinking about sending an offer sheet for Trouba this offseason. Now that he is officially on the market, the big question is, can Don Sweeney and the Bruins make a trade for Trouba happen? Let’s break down the situation and see if we can answer that question.
Current Bruins’ Defense
The current defensive unit is the biggest concern with the Bruins heading into the 2016-17 season. The defense has actually been a major concern for a while now, but not much of anything has been done to improve this unit. The projected defensive pairs for this year are:
Looking at these pairs, you can see some obvious issues. To keep it simple, the Bruins are lacking a top-pairing defenseman. Trouba has stated that he wants to play his natural right side and he would be able to play the right side and big minutes in Boston. So, we have established that the Bruins can give Trouba exactly what he is looking for in terms of playing time and opportunity.
Jets’ Asking Price
If you follow hockey closely, you can predict that the Jets asking price for Trouba can be summed up in one word: high. Young defensemen with Trouba’s talent do not pop up too often, so a lot of teams will be interested in his services. But what are they looking for in return exactly?
There is a trend starting in the NHL of one-for-one trades involving top-tier players. Three recent trades between other NHL clubs immediately come to mind that the Jets will be looking to emulate. Those trades are P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, and Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.
Based off of this trend, my guess is that the Jets will ideally be looking to make a one-for-one deal for a young left shot defenseman of the same caliber as Trouba. They are going to want to be able to plug the player they get in return right in the hole Trouba was in. The Jets are pretty much set at wing and center ice positions right now, so filling that defensive hole is most likely their goal.
Bruins’ Front Office Thoughts
Recently, the Bruins have traded away solid players like Tyler Seguin, Reilly Smith, Dougie Hamilton, and Johnny Boychuk. This is extremely important to note because these trades have led to the Bruins front office saying they are done, “sprinkling their talent around the rest of the league.” This was reported in an article by Joe Haggerty that can be read here. Using this information, we can assume the Bruins do not want to trade away more of their top players or top prospects like they have in the past.
Potential Trade Pieces
At this point, we have established three things: Trouba is a perfect fit for the Bruins, the Jets want a top-four, left-shot defenseman, and the Bruins are not willing to trade away more young talent. We can now go through the Bruin’s roster and apply this information to potential trade candidates.
There are a few players that can be eliminated from this trade discussion right away due to having either no-movement or no-trade clauses in their contracts. According to generalfanager.com, those players are David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Matt Beleskey and Brad Marchand. There are other reasons these players are unlikely to be dealt for Trouba, but we’ll leave that topic alone and simply refer to their contracts as the primary reason.
Torey Krug is a player that has been tossed around by fans as potentially being part of this trade. Krug plays the left side and is still young at just 25-years-old. On that front, he fits the mold the Jets are looking for. Trouba is an all around defender that can play in all situations, Krug, however, is not.
Krug’s strength is his offensive game and Krug alone is not enough to bring Trouba to Boston. With Krug, the Bruins would have to include either draft picks or prospects, and the Bruins do not seem willing to do that. Boston also just committed four years and $21 million to Krug as well, so I would say Krug is not leaving Boston.
Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak could be brought up in this trade discussion as well. However, this brings us back to the Bruin’s front office not wanting to move more young talent off of their roster. If they were to move Pastrnak, a huge hole would open on the right wing and there would be no one to fill it. Spooner is getting better with every season and they probably want to wait and see how high his ceiling actually is. The last thing the Bruins want to see is more of their young players flourishing for another club, so we can assume Spooner and Pastrnak are staying.
What about a package of prospects and draft picks? The Bruins might be willing to put some sort of package like this together, but the Jets will most likely shoot it down. Remember, they seem to be looking for a top-four left-shot defenseman to step in right away. A package of picks and prospects does not help them in that regard, obviously.
The Bruins front office will most certainly be calling the Jets to inquire about Trouba. However, the Bruins do not seem willing to trade away the players the Jets front office will be asking for in return. In my opinion, this will be an extremely difficult trade for the Bruins to pull off. At this time, I believe the Bruins have a very slim chance at making this trade for Trouba happen and Boston fans should not have high hopes for seeing Trouba in a Bruins uniform this season.
The only way I can see Trouba landing in Boston is if the Jets asking price dramatically changes in the next few months. Until then, the Bruins will probably have to explore other trade options if they hope to acquire a top-four defenseman early this season.