Players

Jacob Trouba is doing just fine

Despite concerns, Jacob Trouba will be just fine for the NY Rangers

Just as we were all settling down to enjoy our Christmas Eve, Larry Brooks penned an article stating that the Rangers would have been better off with Kevin Hayes and Neal Pionk over Jacob Trouba (and in this case Brendan Lemieux). Ignoring the revisionist history for Pionk, a player who had his struggles, Brooks basically said that Trouba is a disappointment. That’s the crux of the article, and one that needs proper evaluation.

Trouba, who is only 25 years old, is signed to an eight year deal (through his age 32 season) at $8 million a year. That’s a lot of coin for a defenseman, and as Ranger fans, we have reason to be cautious with big deals for defensemen. Wade Redden, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Kevin Shattenkirk, and so on have blown up in our collective faces. But again, Trouba is 25. The other guys were older when given these deals.

But let’s focus on Trouba’s performance on the ice. Trouba is very clearly the Blueshirts’ top defenseman, playing 1RD minutes against top competition. Roughly half of his time has been with Brady Skjei, and the other half with Libor Hajek. He’s put up a line of 5-12-17, with 2-4-6 coming on the powerplay. Jumping into the raw numbers, Trouba is middle of the road in most major categories for Rangers defensemen:

  • CF%: 44.54 – 4th
  • CF/60: 53.83 – 2nd
  • CA/60: 67.04 – 6th
  • xGF%: 43.59 – 4th
  • xGF/60: 2.32 – 4th
  • xGA/60: 3.01 – 7th

Trouba has been mostly offensively inclined this season, with struggles limiting quantity and quality against. There’s the new system/team, which certainly plays a role. So perhaps instead of looking at the season totals, looking at how Trouba has been trending is more important.

Given that the Rangers have actually played better lately, with the expected dip in save percentage being a contributing factor to losses, this lends credence to the argument that Trouba is trending in the right direction, especially since he’s been freed from Hajek, who was struggling mightily in his 1LD role.

If I did this right, which I think I did, then Trouba’s numbers are trending in the right direction. He has enjoyed a wonderful stretch lately, mostly after being separated from Hajek and reunited with Skjei, who has also been solid of late.

So the question becomes what is more important – the full stats or how Trouba is adjusting to his new role and team? Both play an important role, and there is a valid argument that Trouba has not performed up to expectations when taking the full season into account. However lately he’s been performing better, and has looked visibly better as well. If he continues this trend of play, he’s going to be just fine. Of all the people on the blue line, Trouba should be the least of our concerns. At least for now.

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  • Trouba is weird in that he looks toolsy as hell. He’s a big guy who likes to throw down a big hit. He can skate exceptionally well. He has a heavy shot. And it’s true, he has picked up his game recently after a comically bad start. But he is a top 5 paid dman, and being “fine” is simply not good enough. He’s also prone to making horrible defensive plays, which again simply will result in more articles calling him out from the Post.

    One of the few personnel moves that Quinn has done that made sense to me was quickly taking Trouba off PP1. You need a PPQB who will set up your elite shooters. Trouba shoots a ton (some folks want to see an umbrella with him on the point), but his shooting percentage over his career is absurdly low due to the low shot quality. But we’ve seen him sometimes pass up the shot and pass. If he does that more, then he’ll be much better.

    • Actually, Aris, Trouba’s current shooting percentage of 5.4% is higher than his career average of 5.0%.

      • Not including this season, Corsica had his shooting value at 632nd in the NHL among the 653 skaters to play 2000 minutes since 2015. That’s…not good.

        The issue in the end is that he is taking up a huge percentage of our salary cap, and his GAR/WAR so far are comically bad (19/21 on the team in GAR; and 18/21 on the team in WAR). He’s had a rough start for sure, and historically he’s been a fine player. Hes’ definitely among the top 60 defensemen in the league. But he shouldn’t be paid as a top five dman.

        • Without even looking at your chart, I’d safely assume that at least 75% of the bottom tier shooting value players are defensemen. That’s the point I’m making: judging defensemen by their shooting percentage is absurd.

  • I’m not really sure a 35 game sample size on 7 year contracts warrants buyers remorse? Great conversation to have a few years down the road.

    • The remorse is coming from fans who did not want to get him to begin with.

      Full disclosure, I have wanted this player for 3 years, and he’s finally here. But I can understand why other fans would not want a $64M D man. I mean, in a hard cap league, is there THAT much of a difference between D men to pay someone $64M? Maybe, maybe not.

      As of now, I would say that he is NOT worth the contract (and I said that I have lobbied for him for 3 years). BUT, what I see is the foundation of a player that is a top pair D man. He also has the offensive skills for a top pair D man as well. I think that he will be worth it.

      I won’t say why else I think that Trouba is not showing his best side right now, but here’s a hint: Trouba said it himself.

      • Other problem is he’s not really paired with another Top 4 d-man. I think 3 -4 years down the road is gonna hurt.

        KS!

          • Funny How that works! Oh Miller had a beautiful assist today vs Canada for the game winner , not sure if anyone caught that. Geeez !

            KS!

      • Tony

        “I won’t say why else I think that Trouba is not showing his best side right now, but here’s a hint: Trouba said it himself”.

        If I recall correctly, he stated the system was a challenge for him???????? Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesss I wonder why we are having problems with the entire defense, but that’s for another day!!!!!

  • Boy, oh boy. -as the real hockey sports writer put a bee in your bonnets!
    Where’s the “Thanks Larry” mention? he’s given you another day or two to over analysis everything and anything and you can’t take the time to thank him?

    • I liked Hayes. He rarely went “all out” I think we all knew he’d go “all out” vs the rangers this season…and it hurt. But, again, he rarely goes all out. 7m for 45… yes, bad investment.

      • Trouba’s still only 25, he’s playing on a young team that’s consistently inconsistent, his partner has changed several times, and he’s in a completely new environment. I think he’s doing just fine.

  • Larry is wrong about Trouba and rangers got it right u build from the goalie and then defensemen and last forwards .7million 7 years for Hayes is not right price for a slow centerman.the rangers have goalies for the future and defensemen for the future and 2 great centers do in this draft and free agents they will pick up other forwards in 2 years from now will be in the Stanley cup finals

  • Trouba absolutely passes the eye test. He’s big, moves well, sees the ice well, distributes the puck pretty well. If an opponent takes liberties with a teammate, a shift or so later, if given the opportunity, Trouba will check the hell out of that man. His intentions every shift are pure. He will (not as frequently now as at the beginning of the season) go “all brain dead” and give up a two or three on one. But, he’s cut down on those. His biggest liability is that he plays with Brady Skjei. BS is an effective skater but in his own zone he struggles mightily. His struggles make life increasingly difficult for Trouba. If Trouba is ever paired with a high quality left D man, these negative articles will all go bye bye. I agree that he does not belong on the PP.

  • Brooks is full of it……Hayes is a good player….not a great player…..Trouba was a necessity to strengthen our D…..which was mediocre and because of a few D players, still is…..but improvement will occur as we dispose of pylons and add a K’Andre and possible a surprise trade that could come down the pike for another defender.

    • Considering Trouba skates, passes, hits, and thinks better than Staal, your point isn’t likely. Remember that Trouba has two functional eyes as well.

  • Larry Brooks is often full of it and full of himself. Hayes is a good player, but 7 million for 45 points Hayes vs. a 25 year-old defenseman with all the tools at 8 million is a no-brainer, and Brooks should know better but apparently does not. Trouba in the long run will be a better player compared to Hayes.

    • Hayes is already 27 years old too. Trouba filled a bigger need—not to say that the loss of Hayes didn’t create a need as well, but Hayes’ contract is gonna be a bad one by 2022.

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