Jacob Trouba, Jets Still Apart on Money, Term, Usage

Jacob Trouba and the Winnipeg Jets don’t appear to be getting any closer to a new contract. The team and the restricted free agent haven’t yet been able to agree on money, term or usage during negotiations, according to Gary Lawless on “That’s Hockey.”

“[They] are apart everywhere. They’re apart on money, they’re apart on term and they’re apart on usage,” said Lawless. “Jacob Trouba doesn’t want to play in the bottom pairing anymore. He wants to play with Dustin Byfuglien or one of the other top-four D in Winnipeg. He wants power play time. He wants to be a big part of what they’re doing in Winnipeg if he’s going to be here for a long time.”

While Trouba, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, still projects to be a key piece of the team’s blue line down the road, there have been concerns that he’s taken a step back. A big part of that may be the amount of time he’s spent with Mark Stuart over the last two seasons. He’s struggled there, but with both Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien — the two defenders he’s spent the most time with outside of Stuart — he’s been much better.

That may be at the heart of the reported usage dispute, which is probably the most interesting piece of what Lawless said. Trouba is still young, but no doubt wants to be in a position to succeed if he’s going to sign a long-term extension.

How that plays out may be reflected in the deal he ultimately signs, whether he is put on a long-term deal where he’s paid like a top-four defender or if it’s a bridge deal, banking on improved play that will earn him a significant payday in a couple years.

The 22-year-old defender just finished up his entry-level deal last season, posting a career-low 21 points and 22:04 of average ice time. He ranked fourth among the team’s defenseman with 1:17 of power play time.

While this is the kind of situation that often breeds trade rumors, the generally cautious Kevin Cheveldayoff made it clear back in June that the team is not looking to trade Trouba.