When the Winnipeg Jets drafted defenseman Jacob Trouba with the 9th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft they hoped that one day he would be a building block towards future successes. Well one day is now today as he is part of a bruising defensive core with teammates Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers who make the 6’3” Rochester, Michigan native seem tiny; Byfuglien is 6’5” and Myers 6’7”. Trouba won’t turn 22 until late in February and is the youngest member of the Winnipeg blueline but his value may grow as his game matures entering his third NHL season.
As the Jets try to build off of last year’s playoff appearance, the franchise’s first since moving from Atlanta in 2011, Trouba will play a key role as a guy that can chip in 20-30 points and can be a defensive presence with his checking ability. He only played (needed) one year of college hockey before the front office in Winnipeg felt he was ready to make the jump to NHL hockey. He responded with ten goals/29 points in 65 games, including burying one in his NHL debut (see below) and followed that up with 22 points last season + two more in the postseason.
Following the Jets 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, their second win in as many nights, The Hockey Writers spoke to Jacob Trouba to find out how electric the ‘Peg was during their playoff run, his memories from college and what it means to him to have been able to wear a Team USA jersey among other topics.
The Hockey Writers: Has your team’s start turned out just like you planned it — with two road wins and four points?
Jacob Trouba: Yeah this is probably the best way we could have envisioned it; but we have to get better with our starts. I think we improved from what we did in Boston tonight here (in New Jersey), but we can be better; the games are going to get tougher as our road trip goes on.
THW: You only played one year of college hockey with the Michigan Wolverines; what was your experience like there?
JT: It was great. I learned a lot…(laughs) I probably learned more off the ice than I did on the ice, but just having that experience is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. Especially when I moved away, to Winnipeg, it only helped me and the things that I went through. I loved my time there (at Michigan), I wish I could’ve stayed there all four years.
THW: As a kid from Michigan, who went to school in Michigan did you have a solid idea of where Winnipeg was when they drafted you?
JT: Yeah, I knew a little bit about because the team had just moved (from Atlanta) there the previous year. It was really exciting, and it still is a pretty exciting town to play in; they love their hockey. We have a good, young team and hopefully there are nothing but good things to come.
THW: In your first NHL game you score your first career goal; what was going through your mind? It must have been a blur.
JT: Yeah it really was. Pretty much that whole first year was a blur. But to score in my first game was pretty cool (smiles), a pretty fun thing to have happen for me. But really it happened and I just moved on to the next game personally.
Jacob Trouba (probably) to Devan Dubnyk: ‘Say Hello to My Little Friend!’
THW: I know you guys got swept in the playoffs, but what was it like to be in that atmosphere as the home team in that first playoff game in Winnipeg in decades?
JT: It was wild (grins), it felt like the whole city was pretty electric. It was obviously a tough series for us; Anaheim had a great chance to win the Cup last year and I think we held our own with them for the most part during the games. We gained some experience that we can learn from (and build upon) going forward, so hopefully we take that next step going forward.
THW: You’ve worn a Team USA jersey a few time sin various tournaments and such; how special are those experiences for you?
JT: I feel fortunate that I have been able to do it a lot. Every time is just as special and something I definitely don’t take for granted because you never know when your last opportunity is going to be. It’s a very small stage (to be representing our country) in the grand scheme of things but it’s something I take pride in and I’m really happy I’ve been able to do that.
THW: Did you have a favorite player growing up/was it a defenseman?
JT: Probably Nicklas Lidstrom from the Detroit Red Wings. He’s a pretty good guy to watch when you are growing up (to learn from), try to pattern yourself after.
Dan Rice can be reached via Twitter: @DRdiabloTHW or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.