Thoughts following the Jacob Trouba contract

On what we thought would be a lazy Friday, the Rangers surprised us with a 4pm signing of Jacob Trouba. The contract was for seven years and $8 million. Trouba is currently 25 years old, and will turn 26 in February of the upcoming season. The contract avoids arbitration and locks up Trouba until he is 32 years old. It comes with a full NMC in years 2-5 and a limited NTC in the last two years. There is no protection this year, as he’s still a RFA and couldn’t negotiate for it in his first year. As usual, I have some thoughts.

1. Given the fact that we are Ranger fans, it is ok to be gun shy about big contracts. That is $19.5 million given to Trouba and Artemi Panarin. The Blueshirts don’t fare so well with these kinds of contracts, even when it’s their own RFAs on defense. Their history is littered with Marc Staal’s, Dan Girardi’s, Wade Redden’s, Brendan Smith’s, etc etc etc. You get where I’m going. It’s ok to be gun shy here.

2. The big difference is that Trouba is a bonafide 1RD, and you give big money to your big players. Staal, Girardi, etc were never top pairing defensemen, even when we thought they were (Henrik Lundqvist hid most of the issues for quite some time). They were all bottom-four at best defensemen, and those are the contracts that get you into trouble. Spending big on your stars is not the issue. It’s spending big on depth. If the Rangers didn’t have big money tied into middle-roster players, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

3. One last bit on the contract, and I keep reiterating this, is that it’s better to spend on your stars than to spend on your depth. Depth is interchangeable and you can find replacements, even if there are emotions involved with some of the players. The good thing here is that the Rangers are now limited in what they can spend on their middle roster players in free agency going forward. This was their big splash with Panarin and Trouba, and now they don’t have the maneuverability to sign some middle-six forward or middle-pair defenseman to $6 million a year. We don’t need to worry about having an Andrew Ladd contract.

4. Even with Panarin and Trouba and all the kids, the Rangers are still in a rebuild. Panarin and Trouba add about six wins to the Rangers this season, which probably keeps them out of the playoffs. Of course that model doesn’t account for Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov, or Adam Fox, but expecting them to be the catalysts to get into the playoffs is unfair. At best, the Rangers are still fighting for a playoff spot, and may finish in the bottom-ten again. That’s fine.

5. So why trade for Trouba and sign Panarin? When is the next chance the Rangers are going to get two players of that magnitude for the price of a first round pick, a negative asset on defense, and cap space? Probably never. You shoot your shot now, especially when they are both multiple years away from the dreaded 30 years old. Panarin’s deal won’t end until he’s 34, and yea those last 2-3 years might be bad. Trouba’s deal ends when he’s 32. It’s not like we are getting these guys until they are 38 years old.

6. I think I’ve spent enough time trying to talk people off the ledge who are worried about having two players for seven years and $19.5 million on the books. But one last thing: The Rangers will have over $20 million coming off the cap after the 2020-2021 season, which is right when players like Libor Hajek, Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, and Brett Howden will need new deals. That doesn’t necessarily concern me. The only concern is tying up cap space into more buyouts on defense, which may be unavoidable.

7. It’s been an exciting and scary offseason. The Rangers may not do much better in the standings, but they are certainly going to be a much more fun team to watch. It’s going to be a lot of goals for and against. I hope you’re ready for it.

"Thoughts following the Jacob Trouba contract", 5 out of 5 based on 14 ratings.
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    1. Isles are going to regress hard.

      If Varlamov saw Lehner’s shot volume with his sv% at .910, the Isles would’ve been 8th in the East in goal differential, which would’ve had them fighting for a wildcard.

      Rangers will be fighting alongside them for that last spot.

  1. Like I wrote in the prior thread, I’ve come around to the idea of forcing a trade/buying out Hank along with the assumption that ADA will be quickly dealt if he signs a deal before the arbitration hearing.

    A 2 year, $5.25mm deal for ADA where year 1 has a $2.8mm signing bonus would make a lot of sense if you’re looking to flip him.

    1. If they somehow are able to shed Shattenkirk, why trade DeAngelo? Seems to me it is far better to keep Tony.

      1. If they can ditch Shatty for a 7th(with upgrade conditions) on a 50% retain, I’m all for it; but if there’s no takers ADA is the easier asset to move who would be fighting for a spot in 2 years anyway with Joey Keane in the pipeline.

        At the contract I theorized, you could flip him to Ottawa for assets in a heartbeat.

      1. Salary judgements aside, if you can get Georgiev extended at a good price for 3 years coming off the ELC(but before UFA) you can buy Hank out and (even at the worst) have a net spend in goal less than you would have otherwise over the same time horizon(with the cost dropping).

        I got one loyalty and it’s the Rangers. If there’s a way to make the team better both now and in the future, then you explore it.

        Dealing Kreider is easy, but doesn’t help the team much now or in the future.

        Buying Shatty out doesn’t help much now or in the future, giving him away on a retain is better.

        Buying out Staal helps out now, but not in the future.

        Buying Namestnikov helps out now, doesn’t hurt much in the future, but giving away w/retain better.

        Can’t buy out Strome, dealing doesn’t help now or in the future.

        1. I think the Rangers are fairly desperate to get rid of Shattenkirk… I expect a significant “sweetener” to be added to salary retention to facilitate this. Just a hunch.

          1. This is what I expect also. It’s the scenario that makes the most sense. Avoid buyouts at all costs. Cap space is more valuable than picks at this point.

      2. It’s rarely talked about because the odds that they would dump/trade/buyout him are pretty long. It’s basically the same reason (on steroids) people focus on Shattenkirk and Smith more so than Staal.

        1. I completely agree on the remoteness of a buyout happening, but the trade idea has already been broached.

          But if you are assigning salary % to the components of your roster, the numbers now pencil out, fan reaction be damned.

          If he signs with another team, make a bobble head with Hank wearing assess chaps so we can kiss his keister.

          If he goes to Frolunda, go travel there next season.

          1. Even a trade seems remote to me. I think they’re giving Hank one more kick at the can (maybe two) — not that I think a SC is in our immediate (2 year) future. Personally I would have traded him and retained up to 50% (preferably 25%) if possible — maybe throw in another difficult contract @50% as well. Problem solved … but it’s probably too late at this point.

            The reality though is he should retire before the decline hits HARD … and go into management.

          2. If Hank we’re to retire tomorrow, the cap recapture would be $6.5mm each year for 2 years.

            If he were to retire after next season, it’s a $5.5mm cap hit.

            There goes *that* bright idea.

    2. ADA isn’t up for arbitration, most of the leverage is with us … same for Lemieux only moreso — I say sign ADA to a 1 or 2 year cheap deal (even though I would have originally favored a longer term deal), same with Buch and especially Lemieux (1 year) — in other words try and kick the can down the road 1 or 2 years when everything opens up …

      I also wonder if the Rangers can provide these players with signing bonus money in the event of a lockout and whether that could affect the $ amount in some way.

      1. Regardless of leverage, ADA is the most fungible asset that will create the most value.

        Structure the contract well and he’ll be dealt in an hour.

        Moving him gives the team enough headroom to be somewhat more selective in making deals/avoiding buyouts.

        1. I wouldn’t want to trade him just yet, I think we just scratched the surface on him and his value will increase.

          1. I don’t want to, it’s just that the writing on the wall points in one direction.

            You have Fox in a similar role on the same side on an ELC, in 2 years Keane will be ready and on the last year of his ELC.

          2. ADA needs at least one more year of “rehabilitation” … and as much as I may believe in Fox, I want to see him play before trading away a “sure thing” —- because to me ADA is Top 4 material.

          3. And if wishes were horses we’d all be riding Secretariat.

            The team put themselves between a rock and a hard place and players like ADA become collateral damage in the rebuild. You sign him and flip him before the buyout window closes, or you don’t sign him until someone else does or a roster player gets maimed in the pre-season.

            Yes, there’s headroom to go over the cap, but you gut any leverage you have with other teams.

          4. No wishes here, he’s the wrong player to trade … and if the cost is some draft choice or two (not a 1st rounder of course) then so be it — if that’s what it’s going to take to retain the youth like Buch and ADA then it needs to be done. Hell, I would trade Kreider first. That said, none of us here really knows what’s going on — and I’ll reference the Trouba trade that everybody said was going to cost a real good prospect, a 1st rounder PLUS something more. Literally every “commentator” was wrong.

          5. Belief ain’t got nothing to do with it, Fox is playing top 4 minutes wether we like it or not.

            Bottom line is after shelling out $19mm on 2 players, the roster has to be made of more players like Fox & Boo than ADA or Namestnikov.

            Now Pionk getting $3mm screws things up tremendously.

          6. Don’t forget Miller or Lundqvist, either. It’s not like our defensive prospect pool sucks anymore.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with points 2 and 3. Star players get star money, they are hard to replace — depth players are easier to substitute and generally younger.

  3. I think point 5 deserves more emphasis. We got two VERY good (including one who’s elite) players for Kevin Hayes, Neil Pionk, and money (OK, a LOT of money, but Dolan has plenty of that). The chance to do that comes along very seldom. Combine those two with the prospects we have now, and the future looks really bright.

      1. I agree 100% about the cap, BUT a team very, very, rarely gets the opportunity to sign two players with the potential impact of Panarin and Trouba in the same off season for a reasonable amount. No one knew we would get Kakko, our prospect pool looks strong, and adding those two makes the team MUCH better right now, and for the immediate future. I see it as one of those times when the FO has to pull the trigger, make the deals, and figure out how to handle the cap later. Essentially, no matter who we give up to make the cap fit, the Rangers are in better shape than they were in April.

  4. “Given the fact that we are Ranger fans, it is ok to be gun shy about big contracts”.

    Maybe I’m a scenic, but you described me to a tee. Over the course of years that I’ve watched this team, and bled blue, I just get so uncomfortable with these type of deals. The only saving grace is that both players are still young, and have a proven history. All the other deals were for retreads who came for their last big check, and spend some time enjoying the NYC night life.

    The only thing I ask is try to resign Kreider if we can, then we could develop into a power house with the kids coming into their own, and him being a leader of the pack!!!!!!!!

    I hate the thought of losing the likes of ADA, or possibly Buch due to the long term deals of our rejects, it just doesn’t seem right to me……………

    1. It’s not right Walt and is why I think they avoid doing that. Sweeten the pot to trade Shatty/Names/Smith and keep your young building blocks.

      1. Welcome to Gortie’s Choice: someone you love is going away for good because of prior decisions.

        Or, for this generation: time for Gorts to play FMK between Kreider, Buch and ADA.

    2. Agreed Walt. Trading Kreider or ADA or Buchnevich instead of Shattenkirk and Smith are bad choices to be forced into in the midst of the rebuild. Hopefully Gorton has some magic left to work out deals that will allow them to retain the young and promising players instead.

          1. Why panic now when you can panic later?

            Staal is fine as a 3rd pair. Hopefully Trouba & Skjei are as simpatico as they think they’ll be. You hope Hajek can handle 2nd pair minutes. THE LEFT SIDE IS FINE.

            ADA is easier to move(though the Pionk deal is murder, now we know why they gave Trouba up for nothing: they’re idiots) and doesn’t really have a spot on the roster now or in the future. Fox is gonna play 2nd pair, Shatty 3rd.

            Is DeAngelo better than Shatty? Yes. Would it be better to have ADA & Fox battle it out in camp for that 2nd pair job? Yes(but Fox looked great at Worlds, while ADA was golfing) Are you gonna pay ADA for the next 5-6 seasons $3mm+ to play 3rd pair? No.

            Going forward, players like Fast going into UFA are going to get priced out at $2.5mm and replaced with guys like Boo & Fogarty or other AAAA players or guys on ELCs. It’s an issue now and will only get more important when Kakko comes off his ELC.

          2. It all comes down to who gets shipped out for the cap shedding.

            The “candidates” should be: Staal, Shatty, Smith, Names, and even Strome.

            If it turns out that it’s Buch, DeAngelo, and players like that, then Staal should have been on top of the list. There is no way that Staal is a more important player than either Buch or DeAngelo, he’s just not. Staal is not an acceptable replacement for anyone of the young, and more importantly, cost controlled players. He’s just not.

            I would play Hajek and Rykov over Staal. And you can throw in Lindgren as well. So what is the justification for holding onto $5.7M of worthless cap space? When better players are available?

          3. In a world full of suckers, yes, those players are the ones you move out first. But Winnipeg is full and the league is running out of cap room and stupid people.

            Who you want to move and who is going to move are two different lists.

            Shatty & ADA are gone in 2 years either way. Which player gets you the best return?

          4. the justification is that in two years the contract is gone if he stays. If he’s bought out the impact last 4 years, the last two of which are just dead cap space.

    3. It will sting if we have to let ADA or Buch move on, but there’s no way that you can say that the Rangers aren’t a better team with Trouba and Panarin on board. One of Kakko or Kravstov will take Buch’s place, especially if Kreider is retained, Fox will slip into ADA’s slot, and life will go on.

  5. Time is running out, so I assume that things will be happening soon.

    As I have said, Panarin should have been the priority of the 2, but the Rangers ended up with both. After a steal of a trade and the signing of a fair market deal. Not too shabby.

    The thing to keep in mind with Trouba is 3 things: He’s a bonafide top pair D man, the Rangers bought 6 UFA years, and his cap hit is less than 10% of the cap.

      1. I don’t know about “cheap” lol, but reasonable for sure pal.

        He’s a top pair D man. He’s not getting $11M per. That Karlsson contract is a joke. Karlsson may never play a full season ever again.

        1. And to think that there were plenty on this site advocating signing of that wounded duck!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Just did an armchair GM, trade Names and Strome with no cap retention, and buyout Staal and Smith, Belesky sent down of course, and the Rangers have almost $5M in cap space this year. The RFAs sign 2 year bridges, $3.2M for Buch, $2M for DeAngelo, and $1.5M for Lemiuex. Shatty stays in my scenario.

    Next year, they would have $13M in cap space, with Kreider and Fast to sign, along with an RFA or two.

    It’s very fixable.

    1. What did you have to give alongside Namestnikov to not have a salary retain, next year’s 1st?

      It’s fixable, but it ain’t easy.

      1. Hearing that the Sharks may be interested.

        Another scenario is Names gets traded, sign the RFAs, buyout Staal, keep Smith as the 7th D man.

  7. Trade Strome, Names, DeAngelo, in that order. Keep Buch if NYR can. It doesn’t make sense to trade away Buch who is skilled and getting better every year. He is only 24.

    Buy out or trade, Shattenkirk, Smith, Staal, in that order. NYR may have to throw in a draft pick to make a trade work,

    Hank earned the right to stay, so forget about trading Hank, it’s not going to happen. Plus, NYR has all the goalie talents whom are unproven, so keep Hank around is not really that bad of an idea.

    1. The same argument can be made for ADA, in fact he’s younger than Buch.

      The sky isn’t falling as much as some would suggest, we’ll probably need 2 moves or 3 at most to get under the cap. One move might be a buyout.

      1. DeAngelo? If you were talking about DeAngelo, I would trade him in a nano second because he is TERRIBLE at playing defense as a NHL defenseman. I don’t need his fancy stats last year when the team was tanking, just watch him playing defense in the D zone, he is horrible. NYR would not win the CUP with DeAngelo playing top 6 defense man.

  8. Winnipeg Jets

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @NHLJets
    #NHLJets have agreed to terms with defenceman Neal Pionk on a two-year contract with an average annual value of $3,000,000.

      1. Look at it this way, the Jets obviously value Pionk which allowed us to get Trouba so cheap, so let’s say “thank you!!” lol

  9. Our future is now more solid with a top 10 (in the league) winger and Right D. To get this talent you have to pay the going rate. Additionally, we have at least 6 first and second year players that have great potential. This should give us (in the near future) two top scoring lines and a defense that is at least 4 deep. This is the formula for winning hockey in 2019.

    As mentioned, we can round out the bottom pair and bottom 6 forwards with less expensive alternatives. This is the rebuild we needed. Thank You Mr. Gorton.

  10. Pionk got 6mil for 2 years, it set up the market for DeAngelo. DeAngelo may request a contract about 3.5-4 mil for 2 years.

  11. Looks like it’s inevitable to trade CK right now for cap reasons, maybe in a package with Smith or Shattenkirk.

  12. I don’t think fans should be so pessimistic about NYR’s playoff chance next season. Don’t forget, NYR was tanking in the 2nd half last year and traded away valuable pieces, and this years many teams in the division are weaker, so don’t give up the chance for playoffs while the new season hasn’t start yet.

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