Jacob Trouba wants out of Winnipeg, and now he's made it official.
After a summer of speculation in both Manitoba and Massachussetts about whether or not the 22-year-old defenseman could be the solution to Boston's search for a defenseman (one that, let's not forget, has been going since the trade deadline), it appears that the door is now open, as Trouba's trade request is basically a "come and get me" to any interested teams.
Back in March in the run-up to the deadline, we took a look at what the possibilities may have been for a Trouba trade, and back then we were pretty high on him:
"A strong two-way defenseman with a booming shot, Trouba has had his ups and downs in the NHL...a superb rookie season was followed by growing pains as he established himself as a solid second-pair D in Manitoba. Recently, though, with uncertainty swirling about his demands post-RFA deal and play that has been strong but never really matched the way he's played in the first season, where he scored 10+19.
The thing is, if you look at what we actually propose selling for Trouba in that article, it's...well, not an option any more. Loui Eriksson is gone. Alex Khoklachev is gone. Dennis Seidenberg is (mercifully) gone. The picks are used.
The landscape, in short, is totally different, and priorities have likely changed for both sides.
All summer we've been hearing claims from some quarters that the Bruins were preparing an offer sheet for Trouba. That (mercifully) never turned out to be accurate (although there were some pretty big holes in a claim probably born more out of a journalist's desire to self promote than Bruins office strategy, again, as we looked at back in June.)
Now we're in a situation where the Jets have a sunken asset they simply have to offload - especially as it has been made quite clear by Jacob Trouba's camp that this is not a "play while awaiting a trade" situation, with a very clearly-worded statement:
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.
What is surprising, here, is that if Trouba was on the market as far back as May, how on earth did the Edmonton Oilers manage to miss that when they were touting Taylor Hall around, settling for the arguably worse Adam Larsson instead in a trade for one of the marquee young talents in the NHL? The question also has to be asked...if there have been extensive discussions going on for trade rights already, where are Boston in this picture?
Edmonton's mistake could well turn out to be the Bruins' gain...but they will need to consider several factors in a Trouba trade that have arisen and are now in play that weren't before:
Firstly, and most importantly, the impetus here is now, to some degree, shifting towards the Bruins in any Trouba negotiations. The Jets effectively have a sunken asset here - they have to sell Trouba now in the hope of getting anything back, because his price will only fall as the holdout goes on. With pressure from the Trouba camp to do a deal, possible disruption in the locker room and questions constantly hanging over the issue as the Jets prepare - this is a distraction the Winnipeg management will want rid of, fast. It is, as they say, a buyer's market.
Normally a trade that works best is one where one team's least valuable asset is another's most valuable, and so a reciprocal trade can be made pretty easily. You're both trading the assets least valuable to you personally for something that can improve your team, and so everyone's happy.
The trouble in this case for any Bruins/Jets discussion, though, is that the assets the Bruins would most like to trade (at C and G) are exactly the areas the Jets are now seemingly set at. Essentially, we've got a position where the least valuable assets the Bruins have (and thus most suitable for a trade) are also those the Jets need least.
This wasn't the case back in May, where the Bruins' least valuable assets were the likes of the Loui Eriksson contract rights, & a few decent picks-all easy to give up, with little long-term impact. Now, even allowing for the fact that Trouba wants out, the Bruins have less expendable assets to play with.
In short, the B's are going to have to give something up that in an ideal world, they wouldn't want to. Something like the ever-rising prospect that is Jesse Gabrielle, or one of the strong young prospects in the system either in defense or forward.
Charlie McAvoy will likely be a name the Jets will throw into the discussion - a name that should immediately be thrown back out again by the Bruins, because however good Trouba is, he ain't Charlie McAvoy + a package good. Yet.
Defensive help is out, at least on the right-handed side. The Jets are set with Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers and are not likely to demand one of the Bruins' plethora of depth D in return - simply due to the fact that the B's cap-hit-to-production ratio in that area is...well, horrible. That said, this is again where the "buyers' market" issue may kick in. If the B's throw in someone like Adam McQuaid, that's at least showing an attempt to give value and show they're serious about trying to work a deal. It'll also relieve the logjam of suck that the lower reaches of the B's defence has become.
Jacob Trouba is a viable target for the Bruins, still, but the stalling and changes from the B's this offseason mean that, while the push factors forcing Winnipeg to look at a deal are much stronger, the pull factors bringing them to make that deal with Boston may be a little harder to find than they were in March, at least without the Bruins risking actually losing something that might actually hurt.
The deal with Trouba is still on, but it will require the Bruins front office to be a little less conservative than they've so far been.
It is, however, an opportunity that will make a little bravery now worth it.
It's time for the B's to bite the bullet, tear away the band-aid that's so far been covering the real problems, and get down to some major surgery.
Cutting the assets they have to find a cure for their issues in Trouba may be the best option right now - even more so than in March.