Now that Jacob Trouba is a Ranger, it’s now time to look at locking him up long-term. Trouba is an interesting case because the assumption is that he priced himself out of Winnipeg and demanded a trade. While that is true –he did ask for a trade, but because he wanted his wife to be able to practice as a medical professional, which she couldn’t do in Canada– it’s worth noting that Winnipeg’s cap issues created the crunch, not necessarily Trouba’s demands.
That’s the way the NHL works nowadays. In a cap world, tough decisions are needed and Winnipeg knew they couldn’t re-sign Trouba, regardless of his trade ask, and keep players like Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. So now he’s a Ranger, and has already stated he looks forward to playing in New York for the long-term. The question now is about how much that long-term commitment will cost.
Trouba, 25, will have his next contract buy out a good portion of his UFA years. That’s going to be the expensive part. His agent, Kyle Overhardt, is a notorious hard liner as well. Trouba isn’t going to be cheap, but no great defenseman is going to be cheap.
Per Evolving Wild’s contract projections, Trouba is most likely looking at a 5-6 year deal. That duration allows Trouba one more big contract before he hits his twilight years. For the Rangers, a deal of that length locks him up until his age-30 or age-31 season. It’s a long commitment, but it’s not to an aging player. That length works for both sides.
Cap hit is where things get interesting. EW has Trouba at about a $7.2 million cap hit, which is about 8.7% of the cap ceiling of $83 million. That’s market value, and quite honestly could become a relative bargain if Trouba continues to progress his game as a 1RD and PP1 QB.
Aside: Trouba at $7.2 million does, however, put the Rangers into a situation with Artemi Panarin. There needs to be significant work done in order to fit in Panarin, if that is indeed to be the case this summer. Even if you assume that Kevin Shattenkirk is traded at 50% retained, the Blueshirts would need to move on from two of Jimmy Vesey, Vlad Namestnikov, and Ryan Strome in order to fit in Panarin. It’s doable, of course.
A comparison of other defensemen making 8.7% of the cap ceiling at the time of their contract signing, while signing as a RFA:
- Cam Fowler (8 years, $6.5 million) – 8.67% of last year’s cap ceiling when deal was signed on July 1, 2017.
- Dmitry Orlov (6 years, $5.1 million) – 6.8% of the 2017 cap ceiling when signed on July 1, 2017.
- Esa Lindell (6 years, $5.8 million) – 7.3% of the the 2018-2019 cap ceiling, but this was signed before the 2019-2020 cap ceiling was projected to be $83 million.
The split of defense cap hit percentages is interesting, since there’s a big chunk between 5%-7%, and then there’s a gap before hitting the 10% chunk. It’s safe to say that Trouba is better than the guys listed here, but not on the level of the 10% and higher chunk (Subban, Karlsson, etc). So the 8.7% cap hit is market value.
In the end, you have to pay to keep your prime talent in their prime years. Trouba fits that mold. At $7.2 million, give or take, he’s going to be under 9% of the cap ceiling today, and likely around 6% of the cap ceiling when the deal expires. Market value today could be a bargain by then.
Reminder: Trouba isn’t Leetch.