jacob trouba leadership rangers

The most polarizing Rangers defenseman is now also the captain. Jacob Trouba’s leadership was rarely in doubt, even if his on ice impacts and cap hit have been a subject of debate since the Rangers re-signed him after trading for him. While it seems the “should’ve kept Neal Pionk” crowd has quieted down, there are legitimate concerns with Trouba’s on-ice impact. But they do appear to be overblown, at least for now, as the Rangers look to go from surprise playoff run to legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Trouba’s on-ice impacts

Did you know that Trouba set a career high in goals last year? His 11 goals, 10 at even strength, bested his 10 goals from his rookie season. He also had 28 assists, 25 at even strength, which was his second highest total (42 in 2018-2019). Trouba was the highest scoring defenseman outside of Adam Fox, who was tied with Trouba in goals, without the powerplay time that Fox got. That’s not a knock on Fox, so don’t take it that way. If anything, it shows how under appreciated Trouba is offensively.

The Rangers need offense from their blue line, as it can’t be all Fox. He’s one of the best in the game for sure, but he needs help, and Trouba is the perfect answer to him on the second pair. Contract aside, which is not part of on-ice performance, Trouba has delivered in what is appearing to be an evolving role.

At first glance of Trouba’s possession metrics, it’s easy to be unimpressed. After all, Trouba is a defenseman, and he’s supposed to be better in the defensive zone. That is 100% accurate, and we do hope that his play in his own zone turns around. That said, role matters, as does complementary pieces to defensive pairings. When you compare Trouba to K’Andre Miller’s excellent defensive metrics, you have another Fox-Lindgren type pairing. Even if you were to swap Miller and Lindgren, you’d likely get the same results.

Trouba has historically been better with a defensive minded partner. With Miller clearly filling that role, perhaps Trouba will have an even better year, his first year as captain.

Trouba’s leadership and intangibles

We’ve heard stories about Trouba’s leadership in the locker room and off the ice, it’s why he was named captain. It’s why he was going to be named captain last year, and clearly nothing changed to sway them. We know what he brings to the team and how the team reacts when he’s not there. Just look at the collapse at the end of the 2021 season, when Trouba was hurt, and it shows you what he means to this team.

But if on-ice results are your thing, and you’re dismissive of Trouba’s offensive numbers because “defensemen play defense,” well then we have some hits for you. Trouba almost single handedly won the Rangers the series against Pittsburgh with a clean hit to Sidney Crosby. He did the same against Carolina with another clean hit on Seth Jarvis. These hits were clean within the rule book, and they both swung series momentum to the Rangers. Trouba may be a bit lacking defensively, but scoring and clean hits will certainly make up for it.

Trouba is always going to be polarizing. But it’s clear he’s an important piece of the Stanley Cup contender the Rangers are trying to build. He’s still a net-positive on the ice, and clearly a big positive off the ice. Sure, you want a lower cap hit, but that’s not on Trouba.

Grade: B

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