The Rangers need Jacob Trouba. Jacob Trouba needs the Rangers. This is a marriage that likely isn’t ending any time soon. Yet Trouba has been far from worth his contract, and the Rangers are stuck paying him $8 million a year to be mediocre. Once Jack Johnson is gone next season, all eyes will be on Trouba as the whipping boy. It’s time to put Jacob Trouba in a position to succeed with the proper partner.
There are two schools of thought here. The first is to put Tony DeAngelo on his left side, which solves the DeAngelo/third pair issue. That pairing has been something I’ve been pushing, however it doesn’t play to Trouba’s strengths. This is something Rob has pointed out. I’ve been coming around on this, and am now with Rob, that Trouba is best off with a defensive minded partner.
This does not mean I think DeAngelo is best suited on the right side. I still think he’s a better LD than RD.
Trouba looked to awaken himself when paired with Brendan Smith last season. He was much better, but that isn’t the best role for Smith. It’s about finding balance, and that’s where Ryan Lindgren comes into play. He’s the only pure defense-first player who is actually, you know, good.
Sticking with Lindgren-Trouba is going to be an important aspect of Trouba’s success going forward. This kills two birds with one stone if it works. First, it gets Trouba going, which is critical to the short and long term success of the Rangers. This is, perhaps, the most critical piece.
Second, it provides an opportunity for the Rangers to put K’Andre Miller with Adam Fox on the second pair. Fox is the steadiest defenseman on the team, and Miller needs that reliability to make mistakes. As mentioned earlier today, this second pair has the ability to catch lightning in a bottle.
A consistent and stable top four is a critical piece for the Rangers. To get there, they need to get Jacob Trouba going with the right partner. The Lindgren-Trouba experiment should be one that gets more than a shift, and one that should reap benefits up and down the lineup.