The New York Rangers have acquired Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th-overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The draft pick was originally owned by the Jets and was acquired from the Rangers in the trade that saw Kevin Hayes sent to Winnipeg.
This ends the Trouba saga in Winnipeg that has gone on for a few seasons. While the 25-year-old defender has proven to be among the NHL’s best throughout his career, he broke out in a big way in 2018-19 by scoring eight goals and 50 points in 82 games this past season.
It’s been a turbulent career in Winnipeg for Trouba who felt that he wasn’t being used to his full potential in Winnipeg back in 2016 as the team wasn’t playing him on his natural right side. This was due to the team’s depth on defense and as a result, Trouba desired a change of scenery to truly reach his full potential, asking for a trade from the club.
Trouba would eventually sign a two-year bridge deal with the Jets worth $6 million and ultimately rescinded that original trade request. He was given the time and opportunity he deserved, but the Jets never truly felt like the long-term home for the 6-foot-3, 202-pound blueliner.
He’d sign a one-year deal worth $5.5 million last offseason and he’s in search of a new, long-term contract in his new home with the Rangers.
Jets and Rangers Finding Value With Trouba Trade
Trouba will now go from the No. 1 right-shot defender on Winnipeg to the No. 1 right-shot defender in New York, assuming the team plays him alongside Brady Skjei as the No. 1 option on defense for them.
In exchange for Trouba, the Jets are getting Pionk, a 23-year-old defender who just finished his second NHL season. In 101 career games, the 23-year-old has scored seven goals and 40 points and has made waves for the team early in his career. He’s coming off of a six-goal, 26-point campaign in 73 games this past season.
If he ever wants to reach his potential, though, he’ll have to improve drastically on the defensive side of the puck as he’s been more than lackluster in that department thus far in his young career.
Pionk will get a chance to prove he can play better defensively with the Jets who are now without Trouba and could be without Tyler Myers on the right-side after this offseason.
For the Rangers, this deal came from a position of strength. The team has been stockpiling assets for a few seasons after declaring a retool was necessary. They already look primed to take a big step forward in the coming seasons and could avoid a huge rebuild altogether at the rate they’re building their NHL roster.
Trouba has what it takes to play in all situations and is the perfect option for the Rangers on defense. It isn’t easy parting with a first-round pick or a 23-year-old like Pionk who’s taken the NHL by storm offensively in such little time, but the Rangers aren’t looking to build a contender on the promise of a late-round prospect panning out. At the same time, Trouba is an undeniable upgrade on Pionk in the short-term.