That’s why the situation surrounding still-unsigned restricted free agent Jacob Trouba is so interesting.
Despite the fact his point totals have decreased annually since breaking into the league in 2013, Trouba remains one of the top young blueliners in the game and his availability is garnering plenty of attention from around the league.
The Jets are seeking a left-handed defenceman in the same age and skill range as part of a package for Trouba, but as we’ve seen in the past things can change. With all that in mind, here are seven teams that could be possible trade partners with Winnipeg.
The Bruins were reportedly preparing an offer sheet for the RFA in June. They weren’t able to address their issues on the back end in free agency, so landing Trouba would be huge for that franchise as Trouba would leapfrog both Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid as Boston’s best right-handed defenceman. If Trouba went to the Bruins, it would also appease any fans still salty that the team traded Dougie Hamilton to the Flames last summer.
The catch here is power-play quarterback Torey Krug would likely have to be part of the deal since he fits what the Jets are looking for. Or, would the Bruins be willing to part with 2015 first-round pick Jakub Zboril or 2016 first rounder Charlie McAvoy if Winnipeg is open to accepting a more prospect/pick-heavy deal?
Detroit native Danny Dekeyser would seemingly have to be the centrepiece of an offer here. If you’re a Red Wings fan who loves local talent you don’t want to hear that, but on the other hand Trouba is from Rochester, Mich., and played one season at the University of Michigan. The Jets were one of the teams interested in Dekeyser in 2012 when he was a college free agent. Anthony Mantha took a step backwards in his development last season, but still has a high ceiling. He could be another potential trade chip.
There’s no doubt the Coyotes covet Trouba, but the problem with them as a potential partner is they lack the type of left-handed d-man the Jets seek. They just signed veteran Alex Goligoski, who has a modified no movement clause, and don’t even think about bringing up Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s name — he’s on another level than Trouba. Connor Murphy and Michael Stone are quality young defencemen on the rise but both shoot right. The Coyotes do, however, have a surplus of young forwards to dangle out there and Martin Hanzal is entering the final year of his contract where it’s believed he could be moved at some point.
What would a list like this be without talking about the Maple Leafs, really? We know Toronto won’t give up Morgan Rielly as part of a deal but packaging Jake Gardiner with a young forward could feasibly be enough to land Trouba. The three best right-handed defencemen on the Leafs right now are veteran Roman Polak plus unproven Nikita Zaitsev and Frank Corrado, so suffice it to say the team would love to add more talent to the back end.
The Blue Shirts are close to the salary cap and have seven players on their active roster set to become RFAs following the 2016-17 season. They’d need to shed salary if they wish to take on a player like Trouba who is sure to land a lucrative long-term contract. Also, the Rangers have given away prospects and picks acquiring players like Eric Staal, Keith Yandle and Martin St. Louis in recent seasons so it’ll be interesting to see if they’re willing to do the same to get a young stud like Trouba. They could conceivably offer up a veteran like Marc Staal or Dan Girardi as part of a deal to balance out the books in addition to 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei.
The Devils gave up Adam Larsson to get Taylor Hall so they have a significant void on the right side of their top pairing. John Moore and Jon Merrill are left-handed blueliners in their mid-20s, both of whom would fit in with the Jets. They’d have to give up a lot more than that, though.
Larsson is the only decent righty the Oilers have on defence and they could use more balance back there. It might be too early in his career to move Darnell Nurse but Oscar Klefbom fits exactly what the Jets want – on paper at least. The Swede is signed through 2023 at $4.167 million per year.