Jacob Trouba is now in his third season with the New York Rangers, and though he has experienced some struggles with the Blueshirts, recently he has stepped up for them. His strong defensive play, physicality, and decision-making have helped the Rangers get off to an impressive start this season.
High Expectations for Trouba With the Rangers
During the 2019 offseason, the Rangers acquired Trouba, then a restricted free agent, from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Neal Pionk and a first-round pick. The Blueshirts signed him to a seven-year, $56 million contract later in the offseason.
Trouba had eight goals and 42 assists during the 2018-19 season with the Jets, and entered the 2019-20 season with very high expectations. However, he struggled in his first season with the Blueshirts, as he got caught pinching in the offensive zone far too many times, and didn’t produce offensively the way he had during the previous season with the Jets. He finished the 2019-20 season with seven goals and 20 assists in 70 games.
Last season Trouba made smarter, safer decisions and got caught out of position less often. He played well defensively and developed chemistry with his defense partner K’Andre Miller. However, he missed 18 games due to a broken thumb and concussion and he finished the season with just two goals and 10 assists in 38 games.
Trouba’s Play This Season
While Trouba played well defensively last season, he didn’t do much offensively. He started this season similarly, as he continued his strong defensive play but did not produce offensively. Despite the injuries last season, he continued to play with physicality, standing up for himself and his teammates, and winning one-on-one battles for the puck in the defensive zone.
Through the first 12 games of the season, Trouba had no goals and just two assists, but he looked more and more comfortable joining the rush. He just could not finish off his scoring opportunities and did not get any lucky bounces. However, he continued to step up in the offensive zone and make smart, effective passes and he finally broke through offensively.
Trouba had an assist in the Rangers’ 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers two weeks ago. In their next game, he dominated at both ends of the ice, scoring his first goal of the season and adding an assist as the Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. He made it a three-game point streak as he had an assist in the Blueshirts’ 4-3 victory over the rival New Jersey Devils. Though his point streak ended, he scored his second goal of the season as he jammed in a rebound in the Rangers’ 5-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
This season Trouba has played up to the high expectations the Rangers had for him when they signed him. So far, he has been their most physical defenseman, and he already has 47 hits and 36 blocked shots this season.
Trouba has also provided a much-needed offensive spark recently, and he has two goals and five assists through 18 games. Other than Adam Fox and Trouba, no defenseman on the team has more than three points this season. Trouba has repeatedly gotten his shots through traffic, and on goal, in New York’s last few games after struggling with the accuracy of his shot both early this season and last season.
For the Rangers Moving Forward
The Rangers have gotten off to a good start this season, and Trouba’s strong play has made a difference for them. He got off to a slow start after signing with the Blueshirts, but he looks confident and comfortable this season, which is very encouraging for the Rangers. New York is a young team and does not have a captain, but Trouba is an alternate captain and he is leading by example this season.
Right now, it will help the Rangers a lot if Trouba can continue to contribute offensively while also defending well, as it will take pressure off of young defensemen Miller and Nils Lundkvist. Trouba is still just 27-years-old and he has the talent to be a shutdown defender with the Rangers for years to come.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees fell short, I started writing about sports instead. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.