It’s mid August and the Winnipeg Jets have a lone RFA that remains unsigned. Kevin Cheveldayoff and co have a big decision to make in regards to what they will do with Jacob Trouba. Will they retain the restricted free agent, or send him off to a club that can satisfy his contract requests?
It’s been reported that the Jets are apart in negotiations on term, dollar and in usage and the role Trouba will be in. The last thing the Jets would want is for this to drag in to September and not have this settled before training camp.
What is Trouba worth?
Jacob Trouba’s numbers
While many have become scared Trouba’s deal could be a pricey one, his numbers certainly don’t show that he is deserving of a Byfuglien-type mega deal. It was reported by Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com that the Boston Bruins were prepared to offer a monstrous offer sheet to the 22 year old defender that would tally up a sum of 47 million dollars. Trouba’s numbers over his first 3 NHL seasons point to him being paid much less than that.
When looking at a solid contract comparable for Trouba, we first point to 21 year old Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Olli Maatta’s stats
Last February Maatta inked a 6 year 24.5 million dollar contract with the Penguins, which carries an AAV of 4.03 mil per season. That’s a very reasonable cap hit for a player with lots of potential and if he reaches his potential, it could be a steal of a contract down the road. The Maatta contract is likely the most accurate comparable for Trouba’s next contract. While Maatta has played in 46 fewer games than Trouba, the two D-men’s offensive production is identical over their first three seasons, with each posting 0.34 points per game.
You might not find a better comparable for Trouba on paper than this one.
Another contract that could be used as a starting point in negotiations is the one of Morgan Rielly’s new deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rielly signed a 6 year 30 million dollar deal with the Leafs and while that’s more money than Maatta, that’s still a reasonable deal in the long term.
Rielly’s offensive production has been slightly higher than Trouba’s while registering 0.38 points per game thus far in his career. He’s been playing top pairing minutes and is much farther along development wise than Trouba. This is largely due to the opportunity Rielly has been given by the Leafs as opposed to Trouba who at times has bene seen on the team’s third pairing due to the depth the Jets have on the right side.
If Trouba were to sign a contract like this, the Jets would be banking on the potential Trouba has, not what he has proved so far. The deal wouldn’t even be that hefty of an investment seeing as the deal only carries a 5 million dollar AAV, a fairly reasonable cap hit if Trouba evolves in to a number one defenseman.
Trouba and his camp could obviously make the argument that with his sometimes limited ice time, he hasn’t got the chance to reach his potential. That argument holds weight but to what degree will the Jets a) guarantee to increase his usage and decrease Myers and Byfuglien’s and b) up the dollar figure on a deal to show acknowledgement of that?
Either of these deals would end up being a steal for the Jets, because anything lower than a 49 million dollar mega deal is more reasonable and fair for both sides in these negotiations.