Yesterday evening, the news broke that the Rangers acquired Winnipeg defenseman, Jacob Trouba. It was a shocking trade which sent Neal Pionk (an RFA) and the 20th overall pick in this years draft across the border to Winnipeg. This trade has been on the mind of hopeful Rangers fans for a long time now, as Trouba first requested a trade during the Jets 2016 training camp. To everyone’s shock, Pionk and a late first round pick was all it took to sway the Jets into trading their prized young defenseman to the big apple. I find it very surprising that all it took was a fringe young RFA and a pick. Either way, the Rangers now have a solid core defense which should take them far over the next many seasons to come.
Although the deal seemed to favor the Rangers a lot more than the Jets, that may not be the case. A more rational explanation would be Winnipeg’s salary cap situation. They have roughly 25 million in cap space and need to re-sign Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, and more. There are two arguments regarding Patrik Laine on term for his contract. They could bridge him right now and pay the big bucks later, or they could give him a long term deal with something like a nine million dollar AAV. Regardless of what Winnipeg chooses to do, it will make a significant dent in their cap space. If they get a good trade offer, they could even move Laine and save the money. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing considering they only went to the first round this season, and Laine goes on plenty of cold streaks during the season. In addition to Laine, Winnipeg has others who won’t be asking for discounts either. A guy like Kyle Connor could get a deal in the five to seven million dollar a year range. It may seem like this is a very good problem to have, but when your team couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs it may become an issue. With that being said, the need to trade Trouba was evident here and as Rangers fans all know, Neil Pionk is a solid young defenseman.
As for the Rangers, their top priority right now is to lock up Trouba to a long term extension. An extension for Trouba could be north of five years, and probably around seven million annually. The long term signing of Trouba will be a huge boost for the Rangers, and it will set them up with a great defense heading into next season. You could see a top six defense consisting of Trouba, Fox, Shattenkirk, Skjei, Staal, and DeAngelo. This would leave a defensive bench of Freddy Claesson and Brendan Smith. And for a “rebuilding” team, that’s a hell of a defense. Once you add in either Kaapo Kakko or Jack Hughes, the Rangers will be all set for a playoff run next season. Also, it has been rumored that Artemi Panarin may want to come to the Rangers. That would really be something to watch for in the coming few weeks.
The acquisition of Trouba yesterday may seem like a huge move for the Blueshirts, but it looks like that will just be the tip of the iceberg. Heading into the draft it seems as if the Rangers are in the best position that they’ve been in for a long time. As of right now, the Rangers are settling into what has the potential to be one of their best summers in team history, and it’s all up to them to make it happen.