Unlike fellow restricted free agent holdouts Hampus Lindholm and Rasmus Ristolainen, both of whom inked long-term deals last month with the Ducks and Sabres respectively, Trouba will be eligible for salary arbitration and will still be two years away from unrestricted free agency when this contract expires.
It’s also unclear whether or not Trouba, 22, still wants to be traded, but he had to sign a new contract with an NHL team before Dec. 1 or else he would have been deemed ineligible to play for the remainder of the 2016-17 campaign.
Norris winners Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson chose to forgo traditional bridge deals — as did high-end blueliners like Aaron Ekblad, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Seth Jones, Morgan Rielly and Tyler Myers among others — but these types of bridge deals for players of Trouba’s calibre are common in the NHL. And depending on how well Trouba does over these next two seasons it could potentially result in a far more lucrative deal than he would have garnered if he signed long term this year.
Trouba’s current $3-million cap hit is comparable to players like Kris Russell, Deryk Engelland, Cody Franson, Brenden Dillon and Brendan Smith but that’s not indicative of the quality of player Trouba is — or at least is capable of becoming.
With that in mind, here’s a look at recent bridge deals we can compare with Trouba’s.
P.K. Subban (Two years, $5.75 million, $2.875-million cap hit)
Subban signed his bridge deal in 2012 and it ended up costing the Habs a lot more in the long run. The fan favourite ended up winning the Norris Trophy in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season — not a bad bargaining chip — and he eventually earned an eight-year, $72-million extension that the Predators enjoy these days. He’s currently the highest paid defenceman in the NHL all because he took advantage of his bridge deal.
Dustin Byfuglien (Three years, $9 million, $3-million cap hit)
Trouba’s current teammate signed his bridge deal back in 2008 when he was with the Blackhawks. His 11 goals and 16 points in 22 playoff games helped Chicago win a Stanley Cup in 2010. Stan Bowman knew Byfuglien was going to need a pay raise but his team was right against the cap so he traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers. Byfuglien continued his stellar play and turned his bridge deal into a five-year, $26-million contract deal prior to the franchise moving to Winnipeg.
Tyson Barrie (Two years, $5.2 million, $2.6-million cap hit)
Barrie signed his bridge deal after a breakout 2013-14 season where he registered an impressive 38 points and a plus-17 rating in 64 games. Barrie then averaged 51 points per season from the back end over the next two years and did so while being mired in trade rumours. Barrie and the Avs avoided arbitration and came to terms on a four-year, $22-million contract in July.
Erik Johnson (Two years, $5.2 million, $2.6-million cap hit)
The first-overall pick from 2006 spent his entry-level deal with the Blues and signed his bridge deal six months prior to a trade that sent him to the Colorado. Johnson underwhelmed early in his Avs career, so the four-year, $15-million contract he signed after his bridge deal was lower than you’d expect for a first-overall pick. He eventually landed a seven-year, $42-million extension in 2015 that went into effect this season.
Honourable mention: Kyle Turris (Two years, $2.8 million, $1.4-million cap hit)
Turris is the only forward we’re listing here but we’re including him because, just like Trouba, the 2007 third-overall pick had requested a trade from the team that drafted him. About six weeks into his third full season, Turris inked a two-year bridge deal worth $1.4 million per season. Less than one month later he was traded to the Senators.
Players currently on bridge deals similar to Trouba’s…
— Mathew Dumba (Two years, $5.1 million, $2.55 cap hit)
— Cody Ceci (Two years, $5.6 million, $2.8 cap hit)
— Ryan Murray (Two years, $5.66 million, $2.825 cap hit)
— Erik Gudbranson (One year, $3.5 million)
— Dmitry Orlov (One year, $2.57 million)
— Calvin de Haan (Three years, $5.9 million, $1,966,667 cap hit)
— Jake McCabe (Three years, $4.8 million, $1.6 cap hit)