Boston Bruins Should Have An Offer On The Table For Trouba

Apr 5, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) anad Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Garbutt (16) battle for the puck in the first period during an NHL game at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) anad Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Garbutt (16) battle for the puck in the first period during an NHL game at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins Should Have an Offer on the Table for Jacob Trouba, Should he Become Available

With the calendar shifting to September and the NHL season less than six weeks away, several things remain constant:

  • The impending Las Vegas franchise has yet to decide which iteration of “Knights,” they wish to call themselves.
  • Several notable RFAs remain unsigned.
  • The Boston Bruins have yet to fix their most glaring team weakness.

While point one is of minimal concern to everyone (including actual knights), the second and third bulleted points are of great interest.

One of these restricted free agents remaining unsigned is Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, a 22-year-old stud of a player whose ceiling is that of an elite, two-way defenseman. But unlike his  fellow unsigned RFAs, Trouba’s lack of a contract carries questions that extend beyond how much/how long.

Unlike Johnny Gaudreau, Hampus Lindholm, and Nikita Kucherov, the question of “does he want to be there?” follows Jacob Trouba‘s negotiations. Now, I won’t kid myself or my readers by suggesting that Winnipeg wants to deal Trouba…..they don’t. At all. But it would certainly appear that there is wiggle room here. Because of this, the Bruins need to have a legitimate, competitive offer on the table, waiting. Hovering. Looming.

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In late April, it was reported that Trouba would be seeking a lucrative, long-term contract, bypassing a bridge deal altogether. Reports suggested an asking price around six years, $42 million, raising eyebrows throughout the hockey world to Dwayne Johnson levels. That’s Drew Doughty money. Kris Letang money. And as promising and talented as Jacob Trouba is, he’s not in the same echelon of defensemen as Doughty and Letang (at least not yet).

Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Trouba was unhappy with his role on the team. He’d spent the majority of the season chained to the aging Mark Stuart on Winnipeg’s bottom pairing. His ice time with the man-advantage decreased from the previous season. Rumors suggested the Bruins might prepare an offer sheet to secure his services, though this speculation proved to be just that. With the cost being an astronomical four first round picks (as well as $9 million-plus per year), an offer sheet was highly unlikely from the get-go. Nonetheless, the Bruins do possess the kinds of players and picks that would make for attractive compensation, and it’s an avenue worth exploring.

Despite being mired in mediocrity (at best) since their Atlanta days, Winnipeg has talent throughout the roster. Forwards Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, and Drew Stafford have established themselves as top-six forwards. Prospects Nikolaj Ehlers, Marko Dano, Kyle Connor, and this past year’s second overall pick Patrik Laine suggest that the forward groupings will be in good shape for years to come.

Perennial All-Star Dustin Byfuglien and former Calder Trophy Winner Tyler Myers are blocking Jacob Trouba’s path on his natural right side. Toby Enstrom has been his usual, reliable self on the left side of the team’s defense. Their goaltender of the future Connor Hellebuyck debuted last season, rounding out a position that already included veteran Ondrej Pavelec. As such, the Jets don’t exactly have any glaring needs. In fact, were Winnipeg to be in need of something it would be on defense…..making a Trouba trade even more unlikely. Because of this, Boston would need to send at least one young, talented defenseman the other way. Enter Colin Miller.

Miller played the first 42 games of his NHL career last season, scoring at a rate of 31 points-per-82 games. Showcasing great skating, playmaking, and a booming point shot, the offensively-gifted Miller gave Boston fans a glimpse of what he can offer. Now, in a perfect world, the Bruins would not need to subtract from their already beleaguered blue line in order to acquire Trouba. However, with an expansion draft looming next June, this would almost be a necessity for Boston regardless of Winnipeg’s needs.

Boston will only be able to protect three of their defensemen heading into the draft. Zdeno Chara is automatically protected due to the NMC attached to his contract. Torey Krug‘s protection is a no-brainer. With just one spot left, things could get tricky. Were Colin Miller to not be included in the deal, he’d be left unprotected heading into the expansion draft, where he would be snatched up like the last of grandma’s cookies. This simple fact eases the sting of Miller’s inclusion in a Trouba trade significantly.

With plenty of upside to go along with a very reasonable two-year contract at an AAV of $1 million, Miller would serve as an attractive option for the team’s bottom pairing and second powerplay unit. Winnipeg is a budget team, and with big money already being spent on Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, and Toby Enstrom, Colin Miller could produce at a figure much lower than what Trouba is set to receive. However, Colin Miller is not in the same tier as Jacob Trouba, currently nor projection-wise. As such, Boston will need to include multiple high draft picks in the package.

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Boston restocked the cupboard with nine selections in the first two rounds across the past two drafts. The pipeline is in better shape than it’s been in years, and as such it makes sense for Don Sweeney to part with picks to acquire a guy like Trouba. He is precisely the type of player Boston needs, and would immediately catapult to the top of Boston’s depth chart. At just 22-years-old, he projects to be a foundational player for years to come. With this in mind, know that he won’t come cheaply. This year’s first round pick, as well as next year’s second round pick, need to be thrown in with Miller to garner Winnipeg’s attention.

Boston currently holds all of their 2018 selections, so the removal of a second rounder in that year is surmountable. Boston’s second-round pick in the 2017 Draft is compensation from Edmonton following their hiring of former B’s GM Peter Chiarelli. Edmonton is vastly improved from a year ago, though the playoffs remain a long-shot. The Western Conference is daunting, and Edmonton’s own division boasts three (if not four) superior teams. Intrinsically, that means the pick will likely come in the top 45 of the draft, where great players are still available (Patrice Bergeron-45th Overall-2003 Draft). And while parting with a first round pick is something no NHL GM takes lightly, it’s a necessary evil to acquire someone of Trouba’s caliber.

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  • Dougie Hamilton serves as a near-perfect comparison to Trouba. Drafted one year apart, both were the ninth overall pick in their respective drafts. Their offensive production over their first three seasons is comparable, with Hamilton putting up 73 points in 178 games versus Trouba’s 72 points in 211 games. Where they differ is how they trend: Hamilton’s point production increased every year, while Trouba’s decreased sequentially.

    Prior to the 2016 Draft, Boston shipped Hamilton to Calgary for one first round pick and two second round picks. Reports surfaced that Boston passed on a better offer from Edmonton to facilitate a deal with Calgary instead. Nonetheless, a first rounder and two second rounders was enough for Boston to pull the trigger.

    Hamilton was reportedly unhappy and was asking for a monster deal fresh off of his ELC. Should this serve as a lesson, Boston’s offer of Colin Miller (potential 3/4 defenseman with NHL experience), a first round pick, and a second round pick in 2018 appears to be of slightly greater value than the package that Calgary used to acquire Dougie. The B’s could even throw Alexander Khochlachev’s rights into the pot as well; it’s not like he’s ever coming back to Boston.

    At the end of the day, Winnipeg will do everything they can to re-sign Jacob Trouba. They could relent and offer him a huge contract. They could promise him a role on his off-wing alongside Byfuglien or Myers in the Top 4. Trouba could relent and sign a bridge deal. Boston could instead trade for Cam Fowler, or Kevin Shattenkirk. The Bruins’ front office could go into this season with the corps they currently have….

    I don’t profess to know the future, nor do I have intimate details regarding the negotiations between Trouba and Winnipeg. But I do know that more often than not there’s fire where there is smoke. I know that the Bruins back end is in trouble, especially with Torey Krug being in danger of missing the start of the season. A slow start could cost Claude Julien his job, and missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season would have the same repercussions for Neely and Sweeney.

    Next: Bruins And Ducks: Perfect Trade Partners?

    With jobs on the line and a fanbase growing weary of mediocrity, the time to be bold is now. Letting Winnipeg know that the aforementioned package exists could very well influence negotiations. It could make either (or both) sides play hardball with one another. And it could very well be enough to swing a blockbuster trade, upgrading the blue line in one fell swoop.