Trading Trouba to Flyers Makes Most Sense

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Jacob Trouba’s days with the Winnipeg Jets are numbered. While it will be a shame to see his time with the team end, it would be worse by far for the Jets to net a poor return.

Finding a willing trading partner for Trouba will be easy enough. He’s a young, smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman coming off a career season with a physical edge to his game. No team in the NHL is in a position to say they don’t need such a player.

What complicates things for the Jets are their own needs. Trouba has spent the past two or three seasons morphing into their steadiest right-shot defenseman, frequently on the top pair. Their return on investment should reflect this.

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba
If the Winnipeg Jets must move defenseman Jacob Trouba, they need to ensure a high-end return. (Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Seeing as the Jets are in their window to compete, they’ll need a roster player back. For obvious reasons, this will be a defenseman. Picks and prospects are also almost certain to be part of the deal.

Not every team in the NHL can afford what will surely be a steep asking price. And some of those that can are in the Western Conference, or even the Jets division. The Colorado Avalanche, for instance, could likely handle the team’s asking price for Trouba, but should probably not be their first choice of a trade partner.

This is where the Philadelphia Flyers come in. Loaded with exactly the kind of assets the Jets need, both for the present and future, and safely in another conference, they make the perfect suitor for Trouba.

Flyers Have Loaded Defense Pipeline

Though he won’t be with the team to see the full results, former Flyers general manager (GM) Ron Hextall has stocked their cupboard well with defensive prospects and young players. From his first draft in 2014 to his final one last season, he drafted 42 players, 10 of them defensemen, including back-to-back first rounders in Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov.

Provorov may have taken a step back from his outstanding sophomore season in 2017-18, but he remains a huge part of the Flyers future on the back end. As for Sanheim, at one time considered an off-the-board pick, he’s beginning to blossom.

Ivan Provorov Flyers
Ivan Provorov remains an excellent defenseman despite a down season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sanheim is a Manitoban, a native of the small town of Elkhorn in the western part of the province. He’s also in need of a new contract of his own, however, and is a left-shooting defenseman. Although, the Flyers could be reluctant to part with him.

Still, that shouldn’t discourage the Jets from trying. And even if Sanheim is off the table, the Flyers have plenty of other options. Shayne Gostisbehere’s name has been frequently floated around. He’s a relatively experienced defenseman with good puck skills and some cost certainty.

The Flyers also aren’t shy of draft picks with nine picks in the coming draft, the 11th overall being the most intriguing. The Jets, meanwhile, are a little barren on that front at the moment.

The trade return above would match speculation about the Jets desired return. Other players they could target include Philippe Myers, a towering but untested puck mover, and Robert Hagg, another younger defenseman who quietly had a strong sophomore season in 2018-19.

Whatever the return, the Jets need one or several defensemen coming back. Last season, injuries exposed the weakness of their blue line, and that was with Trouba in the lineup. And with Tyler Myers leaving (and as we’ve discussed, he should be leaving Winnipeg) the Jets have another hole to fill on the right side.

Winnipeg Jets Tyler Myers Anaheim Ducks Max Jones
Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba both leaving the Jets would leave their right side defense looking much thinner. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

If the Flyers are willing to part with some of their high-end assets, there are any number of trade scenarios that might make both teams very happy. There’s flexibility with the Flyers due to their defensive depth that other trade partners just wouldn’t have for the Jets. And there’s another bonus too: they keep Trouba safely across the country.

Keep Trouba Out East

Even if Trouba peaked last season, even if that’s as good as he’s going to get, he’s not a player the Jets want to face on a regular basis. A smooth skater with a mean streak and a bomb of a shot, who put up 50 points from the blue line is not someone you want to hand to a division rival, especially not when he’s just 25 years old.

For this reason alone, you’ll see a lot of trade scenarios out east for Trouba. Here at The Hockey Writers, we’ve already examined New Jersey as a landing spot for him. You’ll see the Detroit Red Wings on the list of possible destinations as well.

What we haven’t seen yet is a list of trade proposals involving Western Conference teams. This isn’t because those teams lack assets; the Avalanche’s multiple high draft picks and growing stable of young defensemen would definitely interest the Jets. It’s because Kevin Cheveldayoff is too shrewd a GM to risk handing a weapon like Trouba to a division rival.

St. Louis Blues' Jaden Schwartz Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck Jacob Trouba
Trouba’s next home is most likely to be in the Eastern Conference if the Jets get their way. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

Players like Trouba don’t come along all that often. You almost always find them in the draft and high in the draft at that. Players of his calibre come along once in a blue moon in free agency and the trade market, which is why losing him will sting.

But, if lose him the Jets must, better they lose him to a team who can afford to give them the best possible return, and who won’t let the trade come back to bite them eight times a season. The Flyers have everything the Jets want and need in a trade partner. Now all that remains to be seen is when they get the deal done.