It was an exciting summer for the New York Rangers, and with the first three games of the season in the books, it seems to have all been worth it. Several fan-favorites and key core pieces that were supposed to be the future of this franchise were shipped off to “build” this team.
Out of all of the transactions, only one stands above the rest. That was the Jacob Trouba trade.
For what the Rangers had to give up versus what they acquired in Trouba, it seemed like a trade that was too good to be true. The deal with the Winnipeg Jets included former Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk and the first-round selection that the Rangers originally acquired in the Kevin Hayes trade for Touba. Not to discredit Pionk in the slightest, he is a developing young player that has shown a lot of positive strides toward being a top-tier defenseman. However, Trouba’s extensive experience in the NHL and proven ability to play was simply a better and safer option for the Rangers.
It begs the question, why should this deal be regarded as the move of the summer for the Rangers? After all, Trouba has only appeared in three regular-season games with the Rangers. Let’s take a look.
What He Brings
Trouba has a very dynamic skill set that was missing from the Rangers defensive formula. He has a devastating physical game, along with an ability to move the puck and shoot it with ease. Through the first three games, he’s blocked 10 pucks and gained 11 hits. Most importantly, after the buyout of Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers were in need of a power-play quarterback. He fits that role nicely and has been able to distribute the puck around to give the forwards the best possible scoring chance.
The Rangers have been in a downward spiral in recent years to get pucks to the opposing goaltender. With Trouba, as well as other key pick-ups like Panarin, this problem should be fixed. Through the first three match-ups, he has been able to help out from the blue line with nine shots on goal. That is good enough to be tied for second on the team with Panarin and is behind Mika Zibanejad, with 12 shots. He also leads all defensemen in shots on goal on the Rangers roster.
The Rangers will need Trouba to be a dependable top-pair defenseman for the entire season. The youth on the blue line has played adequately thus far, but it likely won’t last for the rest of the season. Having him on the blue line for the Blueshirts is a much-needed security blanket. There is so much risk involved with each of the other two lines on defense. Libor Hajek and Adam Fox are the new kids on the block, Tony DeAngelo is on his way to becoming a solid offensive defenseman but it will take a bit more time, and Marc Staal is well into the third period of his career. Brady Skjei, who was supposed to be the Rangers’ number-one guy at the blue line, performed well in only one of the three games thus far this season.
Why Is He So Important?
Obviously, the Blueshirt’s defensive core is a mess. After allowing 47 shots to go through toward Henrik Lundqvist in the opening game of the season against the Jets, it is evident that the defense needed some changes. Those changes were made, and it worked in the Rangers’ favor against the Ottawa Senators, as they only allowed 32 shots to go toward Alexandar Georgiev. Finally, he helped in holding the Edmonton Oilers to only 27 shots on goal.
The most important factor that Trouba brings to the Rangers is stability. He can blend into any situation and perform. In the first game of the season against the Jets, he saw time with Skjei at his left. Then for games number two and three, he was alongside Hajek. No matter the situation or the pairing, he will be a dependable defender for the Rangers.
Trouba can become the leader of this dismantled defense. In a perfect world, being reunited with his friend and fellow defenseman Skjei would be a perfect match in both line and leadership, but the two must be separated. Pairing each of them with a younger and inexperienced defenseman like Fox and Hajek is the right move. He can take these younger guys under his wing, much like Zibanejad has done with some forwards, like Lias Andersson and Brett Howden, and help them improve.
His Place in the Future?
The future is very uncertain for the Rangers. With a lot of young players, seven of them being 23 or younger, there is no real projection of how good this team can be. For Trouba, he will be an integral part of this team and to the success of it. After signing a seven-year, $56 million deal with a no-movement clause until 2023-24, he will be the Rangers “go-to” guy for years to come. Despite being friends, it will be a battle for the number one defenseman spot between Skjei and him.
The Rangers went out and got a bunch of necessary pieces to try and regain lost success. After finishing outside of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, this could be the year that everything turns around. It will have to be a complete effort, though, and the pieces look like they were worth it in the first three games of the season.
Trouba, with four points (one goal, three assists) in the first three games of the season, was the best acquisition of the offseason. Sure, Panarin is a gamechanger, but what Trouba has done on a lackluster defensive unit is simply incredible and should not be ignored. Over the course of this season, he will be one of the more important Rangers and a direct link to whatever success they have.