In case you missed it, and I’m not sure how you could have missed it, Jeff Gorton made his first blockbuster of the offseason of rebuild acceleration. Gorton acquired Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Neal Pionk and the #20 overall pick this year. The pick originally belonged to Winnipeg, but the Rangers acquired it as part of the Kevin Hayes trade. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. This is highway robbery for the Rangers. Neal Pionk was not good, but Gorton made the Jets think he was because he played 20 minutes a night. The first rounder was always going to be a part of this trade, and it doesn’t really matter since the Rangers still have their #2 pick. This was one of those trades where the cost was so much less than expected I thought it came from a fake account at first. Even the non-Trouba fans who were hesitant about the cost should be pleasantly surprised by this trade.
2. Important note on the trade is that the Rangers were not allowed to talk to the Trouba camp in advance. They did not sign him to an extension or have any talks about an extension. This is a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking. In the end, the trade winds up being Trouba and Brendan Lemieux for Pionk and 2 months of Kevin Hayes. Again. Highway. Robbery.
3. How much highway robbery is this? One tweet sums it up:
Yeah, so this is not a great trade we think pic.twitter.com/v56kQpMz7S
— EvolvingWild (@EvolvingWild) June 18, 2019
Yea – Trouba has his own issues in the defensive zone, but he’s a transition defenseman who will carry the top pair. In hockey, the best defense is a good offense, and no matter which way you look at this, he’s still an upgrade on Pionk.
4. Ok on to Trouba the player – he’s not your stud elite defenseman. He’s not PK Subban. He’s not Erik Karlsson. He’s going to have issues in his own end. That part we know and we get. It’s funny because despite his own issues, he’s still better than Pionk. But that aside, Trouba is a 1RD that excels in the transition game, that critical first pass, and getting the game from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. His issues are in preventing zone entries. We will get more into what Trouba is in a later post, but that’s the Cliff’s Notes version. He will be the 1RD, likely paired with his buddy Brady Skjei.
5. This deal adds more fuel to the “Kevin Shattenkirk isn’t going to be a Ranger next year” fire. The right defense gets a little crowded with Trouba, Shattenkirk, Adam Fox, and Tony DeAngelo. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and someone can play on the left side. As mentioned yesterday, having too many bodies is a good thing. Injuries will run their course. Fox may need some time in the AHL. Nothing is a guarantee with rookies.
6. This really does accelerate the rebuild because it begins to address a major problem for the Rangers. They landed their 1RD, who admittedly may not be a true stud, but still does the job. They rid themselves of a bad player who happened to play the same position. There is still a lot of work to be done on this front, though. I am as excited as anyone about this trade, but Trouba is no savior. There’s still two bad contracts and one bad coach that need to be addressed. Plus the 2C role.
7. (Updated at 8:30am) It’s worth noting that the Rangers basically had a choice between Pionk and DeAngelo. Only one was going to be kept. They chose correctly and kept DeAngelo. I’m relatively confident that this was the plan all along –all Jeff Gorton had to say about Pionk on MSG was that he played a lot of minutes– it is worth noting that the Rangers evaluated their blue line properly. Perhaps playing him all those minutes and in those situations was a way of showcasing him? GMs often look at TOI as a major indicator of player value.