During a Monday teleconference, Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff indicated newly re-signed defenseman Jacob Trouba, who had previously requested a trade, was still part of the team’s long-term plans.
Trouba had asked to be dealt last May and remained without a contract until he inked his two-year, $6 million deal with the Jets on Monday. Cheveldayoff said Trouba could join the team as soon as Tuesday.
“We’ve been interested in signing Jacob all summer and certainly I think the statement we made during this process was we’re going to continue to look at an opportunity to bring Jacob back into our fold and be a part of our future and a big part of our future,” Cheveldayoff said.
When asked if Trouba had rescinded the trade request, Cheveldayoff pointed out that he wouldn’t discuss further details of the negotiation. Trouba has yet to publicly comment on the contract.
“Whatever conservations that happen between management and agents or management and players or coaches and players, all of those things are private,” Cheveldayoff said.
Trouba asked for a trade because of a desire to play the right side on defense. In Winnipeg he was stuck behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the depth chart and didn’t see much of an opportunity to move over. Cheveldayoff was asked if he had talked with coach Paul Maurice about Trouba’s role, and the GM said the goal was to get Trouba signed and then figure out how the team would employ the 22-year-old blue liner.
As a rookie in 2013-14, Trouba notched 29 points and scored 10 goals in 65 games as he appeared to be on his way towards becoming a top pair defenseman. Since then he hasn’t scored more than seven goals or 22 points.
“I haven’t had a lot of conversations with Paul through the process,” Cheveldayoff said. “Again, until they’re ready to go or contracts are signed, you just let them unfold on their own time.”
There’s a belief that the Jets could still trade Trouba, despite the new deal. Trouba’s agent Kurt Overhardt, represented Ottawa Senators forward Kyle Turris when Turris held out from the Arizona Coyotes five years ago and requested a trade. Turris signed a two-year bridge deal with Arizona on Nov. 22, 2011 and was traded to Ottawa on Dec. 17 of that year. He cashed in on a five-year $17.5 million contract when his bridge deal ended.
Cheveldayoff was adamant that an eventual trade wasn’t promised as part of Trouba’s decision to sign. When Trouba initially requested the trade, the Jets said, “any decisions made regarding Jacob Trouba will be made in the best interest of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club.”
Said Cheveldayoff, “We’re here to announce his signing and the excitement that’s there and he gets the opportunity to re-join his team and get on the ice. When he plays, I’m not sure how that will all play itself out yet with respect to getting in the lineup, but we’re excited to be announcing Jacob is a Winnipeg Jet today.”
Cheveldayoff said playing in Winnipeg and Canada both weren’t issues for the U.S. born Trouba.
“From the very onset, Jacob didn’t have a problem playing in Winnipeg and didn’t have a problem playing in Canada,” Cheveldayoff said. “Now that I can comment, I can at least comment on that.”
It’s unclear how the hockey mad fans of the Jets will react to Trouba when he returns. Trade demands tend to sting fan-bases and Trouba will likely have to play his way back into their good graces. Cheveldayoff doesn’t see this as being an issue.
“What I believe is Jacob will go out, he’ll play hard and I think the things that brought the fans towards liking him in his first three years, I think you’re going to see those things occur again,” Cheveldayoff said. “Certainly he’s going to help our team to win, which is ultimately what everyone in the stands wants to see.”
Cheveldayoff believes Trouba’s teammates won’t have a problem welcoming him back into the locker room. Hockey is a business and they understand trade requests and contract squabbles are common in today’s game.
“Everybody that’s in this game knows there’s a business side to the game,” Cheveldayoff said. “There’s the contracts, the CBA all the things that I guess make the game tick are there. When players are in the dressing room that’s their family, that’s their team, that’s their bond when someone is out for whatever reason those are things that teams should deal with but certainly within the room I think he’ll be welcomed back and it’s an exciting time to continue our building process.”
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