Kurt Overhardt, agent for unsigned Winnipeg defenceman Jacob Trouba, released a statement Friday indicating his client wants to be traded.
“Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter.
There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.
To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.
Our client has nothing but respect for the people and City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets, its fans, management and ownership – our desire to get him moved has everything to do with opportunity. We will continue to work with the Jets in good faith to achieve this end.”
Trouba, reached earlier tonight, stressed this was about playing on the right side. Asked about rumours that he never intended to stay in Winnipeg, he replied, “It doesn’t have anything to do with” the city, the organization or its coaching staff.
“Not at all. It’s about playing in the top four. That’s what I want to be.”
Trouba said he and Overhardt met with management in May to explain his feelings.
“I wanted to put it to them face-to-face, not go to the media. We wanted to give them enough time to figure out what was best for the team.”
The Jets later released a statement on the matter:
“We are aware of the statement issued by Kurt Overhardt regarding Jacob Trouba.
Over the last three seasons, Jacob Trouba has played a key role for the Winnipeg Jets and in our view still represents an important part of the long-term future of our club. As such, any decisions made regarding Jacob Trouba will be made in the best interest of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club.
As an unsigned player, we cannot compel Jacob to report to training camp at this time. However, we will continue to work diligently to resolve this matter. We will have no further comment on this matter until such time as it is resolved.”
Trouba was third on the Jets in time-on-ice per-game last season, at 22:03. Fellow right-shot defencemen were ahead of him. Tyler Myers was second (22:37) and Dustin Byfuglien first (25:12).
The Jets have always worried about the perception of players wanting to leave. But, new captain Blake Wheeler signed a six-year extension in 2013. His assistants closed similar deals — Byfuglien made a five-year commitment and Mark Scheifele agreed to an eight-year term. I don’t think Trouba’s decision erases those successes.
Asked if there was any particular team he wished to play for, Trouba answered: “A place where I have the ability to reach my potential as a right shot D. There’s plenty of need for that in this league. I’ve played on the right side for 18 years. As a 22-year-old, I don’t have the opportunity to do it in Winnipeg.”
According to several sources, the Jets’ draft lottery luck complicated the Trouba trade process for other teams. By getting Patrik Laine, the organization added to its stockpile of talented youth.
“You look at their young players,” a rival executive said, “They have a lot of good ones. Laine gave them something they didn’t have. It raised the asking price.”
Potential suitors do not worry about Trouba’s signability. They point to another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris, who quickly came to terms after his trade to Ottawa.
It will be interesting to see if any of the other unsigned RFAs follow this lead. They include Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, Arizona’s Tobias Rieder, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.