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The New York Rangers have acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk and a 2019 1st round pick. The 1st round pick was originally the Jets\’ pick, but was traded to the Rangers this past trade deadline in a package for Kevin Hayes.
Trouba signed just a one year deal with the Jets last offseason, instead of committing long term. He needed a contract then after a two year deal he signed after holding out until November. It has been clear that Trouba didn\’t want to be on the Jets, and with the Jets soon to be in a tight cap situation, needing to sign RFAs Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, Joe Morrow, Nathan Beaulieu, plus the newly acquired Pionk, and including UFAs Tyler Myers, Brandon Tanev and Ben Chiarot, the Jets had a situation where either Myers or Trouba had to go. But since they traded Trouba, both could still leave, if Myers doesn\’t want to re-sign. The Jets have just over $25 million to spend on those players, plus potential other adds in free agency. This is a start to an interesting offseason for them, led by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. In return, they get Pionk, another offensive right-handed shot defenseman, though not as good as Trouba, plus they get their first round pick back.
Pionk, soon to be 24, has scored six goals with 20 assists in 26 points in 73 games. In his two year NHL career, Pionk has scored seven goals with 33 assists for 40 points in 101 games.
Trouba is a major improvement over Pionk. Both are offensive minded, but Trouba scored nearly double the amount of points Pionk did last year, Trouba is also just a year older than Pionk. He is an RFA, but if he signs just a one year deal, he\’ll be a UFA next year. Though it is likely that the Rangers lock him up. Pionk was signed by the Rangers as a college free agent, which is a prominent market for the Rangers. They have former college free agents Jimmy Vesey and Adam Fox on their roster already. By acquiring another right handed defensemen, the Rangers have four righty shots in Kevin Shattenkirk, Trouba, Fox and Tony DeAngelo. But two left handed defensemen, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith, are both buyout candidates, so someone could move over. Currently, the Rangers have nine defensemen, though Fox and Libor Hajek could be sent down, and RFA Fredrik Claesson might not be qualified. The Rangers will also have a busy offseason, with $19 million in cap space, and RFAs Trouba, Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux, plus Alex Georgiev and Ryan Strome are RFAs after next year, and Jesper Fast, Chris Kreider, Jimmy Vesey and Vladislav Namestnikov are UFAs after next year.
Trouba, 25, scored eight goals with 42 assists for 50 points in 82 games last year. In his NHL career, all for the Jets, the 9th overall pick in 2012 has scored 42 goals with 137 assists for 179 points in 408 games.