The Winnipeg Jets have traded defenceman Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers for defenceman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Trouba was with the Jets for the last six seasons, going ninth overall to Winnipeg in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
A restricted free agent, the 25-year-old had a career-best year in 2018-2019 with 50 points in 82 games. That put him at the top of the Winnipeg defensive depth chart and for good reason.
But the Jets had trouble inking him to a longer-term deal and effectively ran out of time, with general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff electing to push for draft success rather than risk anything vital.
And interestingly, the Jets traded away their 20th overall pick to the Rangers in the sway that saw Kevin Hayes join them. Winnipeg subsequently sent Hayes over to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Trouba is a big get for the Rangers, who’re making their way through a rebuild and could use a defenceman of his prowess. He can play a shutdown role with a physical side, but he also has a nose for offence that can result in creating opportunities. If the Blueshirts want to mobilize their defence, he’s not a bad way to kick that off.
Trouba averaged 22:53 of ice time a game last season, with three power play goals and 162 shots on goal.
It may not seem wise for the Rangers to cough up draft picks, but they do own the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft and could find themselves in the possession of Kaapo Kakko or Alex Turcotte. That’s also not a bad way to carry out a rebuild.
23-year-old Pionk posted 26 points in 73 games in his first season. He’s a restricted free agent, earning $925,000 last season. He’s a puck-moving blueliner and should be a top five guy on most NHL teams.
(Photo credit: AP)