R. Aaron Houde | June 18th, 2019
It is no surprise to the world of NHL Fans that teams would be willing to make trades prior to their players becoming Free Agents in two weeks. Many big names are set to be on the Free Agent block, and while some teams are opting to re-sign those key players, some are aiming to restructure; gaining skilled players for less money and free some of their salary cap space. Today we will focus on the recent news of the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets trade.
Jacob Trouba, defenseman for the Jets, was sent to New York in exchange for Neal Pionk and the first round, 20th overall selection, in the 2019 Draft. Trouba, at 25 years old, was selected 9th in the 2012 NHL Draft. In this previous season, he scored a career-high 50 points (eight goals, 42 assists) in 82 regular season games. Unfortunately, he was much quieter in the postseason, adding only a single assist in his six playoff games before the Jets were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues. Trouba was on his way to being a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) on July 1, before being dealt to the Rangers.
Pionk, only 23 years old, had 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 73 games skated for the Rangers in the 2018-2019 season. While he may not have the experience in the league, New York saw much production from the Hermantown, MN, USA, native, and led the Rangers Defense in Power Play points with 13. Pionk signed to a one year deal after being an undrafted free agent with New York out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. While he may not have the on-ice presence that Trouba does, he can still provide the offensive spark that Winnipeg has come to depend on with Trouba, and the return of their 2019 Draft pick (involved in a midseason trade with the Rangers for Kevin Hayes) is an added bonus.
Trouba had expressed his desire for a trade in 2016, which he later quashed. With other players on the Jets roster approaching contract renewal (namely Patrik Laine), freeing the $5.5 million dollars that Trouba takes up will help. Getting a draft pick and a young, skilled defenseman in the trade rather than letting his salary lapse and join the RFA world was a smart move on the front office’s part. New York, looking to make their restructuring moves early in the game, scored a skilled defenseman in hopes to make a statement that they aren’t going to let the last two years of playoff absence be a trend. Scoring a top-tier blue-liner in a trade for an undrafted player and a pick they got for a rental Right Winger was a relatively easy choice to make.
Winner – New York.
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