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A look at Jacob Trouba’s game and how he improves the Rangers

When we think about Jacob Trouba, there seems to be two schools of thought. The first is that he’s a true 1RD, the 1RD the Rangers have been searching for throughout the years. The second is that he’s more of a 2RD who will struggle in his own end. The truth is that it’s a bit of both, and Trouba is more in the middle of these schools of thought.

In Winnipeg, Trouba enjoyed a breakout campaign this past season. He played a full 82 games and put up 8-42-50. For the first time in his career, he was utilized on the top pair and on PP1, and rewarded management with excellent offensive play. That’s where Trouba’s value is. His xGF% of 48.87 with Winnipeg isn’t sexy (still managed to be 3rd on the team). His splits were a 2.32 xGF/60 (2nd) and 2.43 xGA/60 (4th). So again, we see a guy whose true value will be in the transition game and generating sustained offense. That said, he’s not exactly a liability in his own zone, as a 2.43 xGA/60 would be 4th on the Rangers too, ahead of Tony DeAngelo and Brady Skjei. So when we say that his true value is offensively, it’s because he’s just very good in that aspect of the game. To say he’s bad defensively would be a mischaracterization of his game.

CJ Turturo has created some great visuals based off game tracking done by Corey Sznajder, and gives us some insight into where Trouba’s strengths and weaknesses are.

For the sake of the post, we compared him to Tony DeAngelo, but that really doesn’t matter much. It’s mostly to show how the Rangers are improving in their transition game.

Trouba excels in generating shot attempts for his teammates. This is all at even strength, so it shows that Trouba has great offensive zone vision and will certainly help the Rangers sustain offensive pressure, both in quality and in quantity. He also excels in generating controlled zone entries to the offensive zone, a key component in generating that sustained offense.

The key item for me is the zone exits, and how successful Trouba is here. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league at transitioning to offense. This shows he has good puck control skills and outlet passing ability. Worth noting that while DeAngelo is the best in the game today at this, Trouba is no slouch. Transitioning from defense to offense is an area in which the Rangers have struggled mightily. With DeAngelo and now Trouba, it might become a strength very quickly.

Where Trouba struggles is in preventing zone entries. He’s middle of the road in breaking up rushes against, but when he can’t break up the entry the opposition gets a controlled entry (carry in or pass) the majority of the time. From limited viewings on my end, it leads me to believe that Trouba goes for the turnover at the blue line. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, the opposition has control. It’s worth noting that this does not show us how Trouba is in his defensive zone coverage.

The bottom half here can give us some insight into how Trouba plays in the defensive zone. The first thing that jumps at me is the threat level remains mostly the same, so he doesn’t necessarily move the needle defensively. The second is that blue area with him on the ice at the right side of the net, which leads me to believe he covers the net mouth area. The third is the area at the top of the circle and high slot is a deep red, so while he’s covering the net mouth, the opposition is finding other areas to shoot from. All this leads me to believe Trouba is average in his DZ coverage. He’s not a show stopper, but he’s not a huge liability either.

I found a good highlight video, and there are some things I noticed right off the bat:

  • The first highlight of Trouba protecting the puck and then starting the breakout is what I mentioned above. It’s a big strength of his, being able to transition the game to offense. This itself is worth the trade and subsequent contract. He evaded the forechecker, had enough confidence to use the net as a barrier to give him space, and found a teammate for the rush up the ice.
  • The second highlight shows how Trouba, despite the narrative, is still able to hold his own in the defensive zone. It also illustrates a little bit about how he can give up the blue line for a controlled entry.
  • There are a lot of highlights here showing Trouba’s puck rushing skills and his ability to read and jump into plays in the neutral zone to force turnovers. Sure, one of those was against the Oilers, but the point still stands.
  • There’s a lot of good stuff in these highlights. Yes they only cover the good and not the bad, so take it with a grain of salt. Everyone makes mistakes.

In Trouba, the Rangers are getting a true top pairing RD. He’s not a stud like Subban, Karlsson, or anyone of that ilk, but he’s still a guy that changes the face of the Rangers’ blue line. He’s no savior, which is also important to note. Ranger fans suffer from Brian Leetch syndrome and basically chase away anyone who isn’t him (Poti, Yandle, Shattenkirk, etc). Let is be known that Trouba is not Leetch. Trouba is Trouba. He’s a significant upgrade on Pionk and will help stabilize the blue line. But he’s not the kind of guy who can carry a blue line either. The first is finding the right partner for him to complement his skills and cover for his weaknesses. With Trouba and the right partner, the Rangers may finally have that top legitimate top pairing they have been searching for.

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48 Comments

  1. Trouba will be our 1RD, but his game may be suited to more of an offensive minded RD than a shutdown RD. While I know he logged lots of minutes, remember, so did Pionk. He is better than any other RD on the roster, and is more like Shatty in his prime. He immediately makes our defense better. He, Fox, Skjei, Staal, AD and whomever should be an improvement over last year’s defense.

    He is a step up and any time you improve, that is a good thing. Let’s not make him all world just yet, but he minus Pionk is a full step forward.

    1. He’s better than Shatty in his prime … and now that there’s no other defenseman to stand in his way (he’s our go to guy), he can let loose.

    2. He is nothing like Shatty….Shatty is all offense and not a lick of defense…and a sissy when it comes to the physical part

  2. I’m one who LOVED Trouba at Michigan but thought he was overrated in the League (especially when he was talked about over the course of the last couple of years). That said, at this price, he’s a steal … at $7.5-8m per, he’s well valued.

    All our offense will pretty much now be generated on the right side of the d’ — with Trouba, DeAngelo and Fox … the Left side just needs to hold the fort.

    One ancillary effect though of this trade, doesn’t this make us a whole lot more attractive to a guy like Panarin?

    1. Will we have $$ for Panarin once we sign Trouba? Remember, there are still some RFA that need contracts.

      1. The Rangers would have to clear cap space, but yes, they could fit Panarin in as well.

      2. For Artemi Panarin they could shed guys like Strome, Vesey or Namestnikov … and hopefully we shed Shattenkirk, or perhaps Smith. Staal would be a tougher sell. Then the elephant in the room is Kreider, I would prefer to keep him around but business is business. Regardless, in 2 years time without making any moves we shed $25M+, so barring any crazy future expensive moves in the next year and a half we would be ok.

        I think the real question comes down to whether or not we even want to go the route of signing a 28 year old UFA to a 7 year contract @$11m per … or maybe we get lucky and like this trade, the cost turns out to be lower than we expect. Exciting times …

        1. I think that Panarin will seek something in the neighborhood of John Tavares and Karlsson numbers, perhaps a tad lower. No matter what, he will be awfully expensive. Combined with Trouba the Rangers would find themselves very quickly needing to manage cap space. I am not too sure that it is the wise thing to do when they will have lots of younger players coming due for raises soon. Close to $20 million spent on two players is rough.

          1. Peter I agree, BUT … we can’t forget that over $25M comes off the books in 2 years. Seems we could (if we wanted to) get over that hump by shedding a couple of contracts. Also Namestnikov comes off the books next year, so that’s another $4m. It requires some management, but it’s hardly an impossible situation.

            I’ve always been a pass on Panarin, a soft one … and in the final analysis I might prefer saving that money for a center and not another winger, but there is a scenario where I think this could work.

          2. Peter

            I have to agree with your post for many reason, but the main being I don’t want to be the Jets, Pens, Sharks, and other in cap hell where I can’t sign my better players due to the cast system employed by these teams. They are top heavy, then fill in the rest of the roster with glorified AHL players because they afford better players!!!!!!! Just look at what Jimmy Rutherford is doing to clear cap space……….

        2. I know it is an exciting time in Ranger land, and I am (excited), but Panarin is too old for this rebuild. I hope Gorton is smarter than the rest of you guys and realizes that to build this team into a perennial contender paying 11 mil over 7 years to a 28 yr. old is just more of the same that got us into the mess in the first place. Not the right move for where we are in the rebuild. Trouba is good and young and cost controlled to a degree, but he will not win us a cup. Sure, maybe with Panarin we make the playoffs, but we will not win a cup. That’s what I want to experience again. If we sign Panarin, just when our prospects are ready to thrive we will still have this albatross of a contract, a man on the downslope, and no money for the next piece to add to regain the Cup! I am a hard no on Panarin!

          1. Pay the big money to a 22 year old in Marner and figure it out after that.

            Too many Hextalls in the room right now.

            The worst thing that happens is Toronto matches, then has to dismantle their team to get cap compliant.

            2nd worst thing is the picks the Rangers give up exceed expected production, which is doubtful.

            3rd worst thing is Marner’s parents are worse than Dina Lohan.

            The biggest problem is the deal Hayes got and how that affects Kreider’s extension.

            If Hayes is worth $7mm in an $82mm cap environment, what’s Kreider worth, $8mm?

  3. Amazing just how colossally wrong Larry Brooks was about what it would cost to fetch Trouba. Nils L and Pavel B plus the first rounder, and maybe that wouldn’t even do it. Laughably inaccurate. Trouba is a nice player, but Brooks woulda had you thinking he was Nic Lidsstrom for crying out loud.

    He tried to justify himself in today’s story but it fell way short, across the board.

    1. Brooks helps sell papers by covering the Rangers. He is no better at predicting the future than most of the folks on this site. Many of us here knew Trouba was a target for us. Many of us knew we need to shed some defensemen. What no one knew was how bad the situation was with Trouba in Winnipeg or what his demands are. That is all speculation.

      Next moves to discuss, no Brooks input required – Shatty and Smith need to be shopped, NYR have to decide if CK is a keeper, Can we save some $$ by offloading Names and/or Vesey. Brooks is an educated fan, with maybe some access to some people we do not have access to. The truth is that men like Gorton are not tipping their hand by giving Brooks insight – it just doesn’t happen.

      From now until July 2nd will be very interesting to say the least.

    2. Maybe it isn’t amazing, his track record really isn’t all that good … but if you throw enough crap at the walls, something is bound to stick every now and then. I mean one day he makes it seem like we can’t live without Kevin Hayes, then another day he’s advocating that we move in … Brooks never stays in one place, aside from the hatred he exhibited for Torts. lol

  4. To me the hand writing on the wall is getting clearer and clearer. Gorton is verbally offering very little support for Kreider. He’s rarely mentioned in the long term or “big picture “ of things. I really believe he is or will be strongly offered in trades. We got an inkling that JG wants to get back into the first round, who else but Kreider can do that for this team. Again, I’m not saying get rid of CK, but I feel this may Gorton’s next move.

    1. If JG gets an offer he can’t refuse I do think JG would pull the trigger but unless he has some Free Agent forward options already out there, and ones that can be signed before Panarin in order to make us more attractive, I just can’t see him trading his veteran presence. The forward line up would be far too young for Panarin or Rangers fans looking for a 1st round win in the playoffs. If Kreider is asking for something ridiculous in a new contract then perhaps this tips the balance a bit.

      In summary, Veteranskoye liderstvo Kreydera budet tsennym dlya molodykh rossiyskikh igrokov.

      1. Yes, I’m thinking Gorton’s getting nowhere with the Kreider contract situation. And he’s constructing plan B.

        Oh, and your last sentence really cleared things up for me… thanks for that?

      2. I agree, Kreider does have value for the younger Russian players. lol Er, at least that’s what I think you were getting at …

        We have two 2nd rounders to get back into the first round, especially if you can throw in a player like Vesey, Namestnikov or say Strome. Hell, say you find a team who needs a RD and you offer Shattenkirk @50 retained salary plus a 2nd rounder (2 of them if necessary) to drop down to the first, you might get a bite.

  5. CK may only get a contract if guys like Names or Vesey and a defenseman can be moved. If not, the Gorton has no choice but to shop him to the highest bidder. We will need $9M for Panarin per year. You only have that if you shed some salary.

  6. Did anyone see this comment from Chevy out of Winnipeg:

    #NHLJets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff on Neal Pionk: “He’s a real competitive player. When you do the research on him and talk to different people about him, he’s a competitor.” Sees him killing penalties, possibly on PP, possibly in shutdown role with Josh Morrissey” #wfp

    A tad delusional. lol

  7. Trouba is far and away superior to anything we have on the team or in the system…We stole him. Chevy even admitted he had better offers

  8. What kind of system did the Jets play?

    How does it differ from the one Quinn was playing?

    I just want to know how much time I need to give this kid to get used to our system.

  9. Trouba wanted to be the man in Winnipeg. Last year he got his wish to play top line minutes consistently and hit 50 points. If the Rangers can sign him he will be the man in New York on defense and if he stays healthy should hold down that spot for a long time.

    The right side D suddenly doesn’t look bad at all if Adam Fox adjusts quickly.

    All this and the number two pick coming up! Great days!

    1. These are truly great times to be a Ranger fan. We may never be this optimistic again once the season comes around. lol

  10. in 10 drafts you get 10 1’s….When we pick Friday night that’s 6 1’s in 3 drafts….If we got Marner and lost 4 #1’s We will still have a 1st in 4th draft next year if Zuc signs with Dallas….so drafts 5 6 7 no 1’s …drafts 8 9 10 we have 3 1’s ….so we would end up with 10 1’s over 10 drafts and have 22 year old Marner

    1. Getting Marner would be GREAT, but what got us in trouble in the first place and forced the rebuild was not having any 1st round picks. You always need a good player or two to step in every year. All I’m saying is this isn’t an easy call, not by a long shot.

      1. Mikey is starting to make a case though, huh? I am not saying I am convinced, but his argument is compelling. Especially if Zucc signs with D.

      2. Absolutely Tanto….I suggest this due to the fact we have been stock piling 1’s …..Something Sather did not do lol

        1. Sather didn’t have that luxury, fans clamored for a WINNER … today, not tomorrow or the day after. Sather had to keep the good players — and let’s give Sather credit for one thing, everything JG has had to work with over the past 2 years came from Sather. Sather’s biggest failing was participating in trade deadline deals and handing out a few bad contracts to aging defensemen. He got us close, but no cigar for Slats.

          My biggest issue with giving up FOUR 1st rounders though is that I’m not sure there aren’t trades out there for a young center that would cost less and provide us with what we need. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need … and what we need probably costs less.

  11. Philly is closing in on a 6-7 yr deal with Kevin Hayes for around $7 mil per. If that’s true, what will Kreider be looking for? I thinks hes gone by the weekend.

  12. Bob MacKenzie is reporting the Hayes deal is 7 years at roughly $50 mil!!!!!! Do we live in Bizarro world or what? No way the Rangers should pay that to Kreider——-and just what will Pinarin be asking for now? After signing Trouba, how would they afford the breadman without shedding some serious dollars. Next few days are going to be interesting.

    1. … and Philly did this the other day: The San Jose Sharks have traded defenseman Justin Braun to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2019 2nd round pick (No. 41) and 2020 3rd round pick. The 32-year old Braun carries a $3.8 million salary cap hit and a has a year left on his deal. Is AV trying to corner the market on old defenseman? lol

    2. It’s silly season … Kreider would almost be worth it, if he was say 25-26 years old … but he’ll be 29 when his next contract kicks in so no, it’s a little too rich for my taste.

  13. Fabulous job by Gorton in trading for Trouba….Now can he work some magic to move Smith, Shatty and Staal? And what of Namer and Strome?…Still plenty of work to be done. I do not expect Gorton to move all three….but two would be nice….

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