Devils Should Avoid Steep Price for Trouba

With the Winnipeg Jets currently shopping 25-year-old defenseman Jacob Trouba, all signs lead to a bidding war between the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, amongst other teams, to acquire his services.

Any trade will likely come at a steep cost, in terms of the combination of NHL-ready talent and key prospects, as well as the long-term contract Trouba and his agent Kurt Overhardt are seeking, which is rumored to be north of the $7.5 million per year mark over the next seven seasons.

That said, it might be wise for the Devils to take a pass and bow out of the Trouba sweepstakes if the asking price becomes way too high.

Jacob Trouba
Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Potential Devils Trade Package

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the asking price out of Winnipeg is Jesper Bratt and one of Jesper Boqvist or Ty Smith from New Jersey.

While Bratt has solidified himself as a top-six NHL winger already, both Boqvsit and Smith remain unproven, but figure to be key pieces to the future core of the Devils.

Boqvist recently inked his entry-level deal with the Devils, and it appears as if the 20-year-old Swede is poised to have a big role in New Jersey starting next season. Due to an agreement in place between the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the Swedish Hockey League, since Boqvist signed a contract this offseason, he will either have to be on the Devils’ NHL roster or be sent back to compete in Sweden’s top league.

Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs
Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs (Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs)

Ty Smith, the Devils first-round pick in 2018 is undoubtedly the best prospect in their pipeline. The 19-year-old defenseman was just named the CHL Defenseman of the Year after scoring seven goals and adding 62 assists during the regular season and a goal and eight assists during the Chiefs’ run to the WHL Western Conference Final in his third-season with Spokane. After nearly making the team out of training camp last season, Smith is poised to make his NHL debut this year on the Devils’ blue line.

Although the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Trouba is an elite puck mover, an incredible skater, can quarterback any top-unit power play and is among the NHL’s best defenseman, the asking price of Bratt and one of Boqvist/Smith is way too steep.

The Devils Do Have the Cap Space to Extend Trouba, But…

General manager Ray Shero and the Devils front office currently have over $35.6 million to work with under the current salary cap, the third-most behind only the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators.

That said, they do have enough money to shell out a rich contract to a guy like Trouba, but, they still need to keep an eye on their future spending to avoid handcuffing themselves and running into salary cap trouble later.

A big chunk of their available cap space will need to go to certain core players like Taylor Hall, should he decide to sign an extension in New Jersey.

Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils, NHL
Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Other key core members such as Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, Mackenzie Blackwood, Pavel Zacha and Bratt, amongst others, are all set to become restricted free agents at some point over the next two seasons and will be in line for contract extensions as well.

As the 2019 NHL Entry Draft looms next weekend in Vancouver, BC and the July 1 opening of the free agent market shortly after, a plethora of teams are working hard to acquire Trouba.

With the current asking price, I’m not sure the Devils should be one of them.