Seemingly out of the blue, New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton completed a trade for defenseman Jacob Trouba.
Trouba, who has long been rumored to be traded out of Winnipeg, was finally traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk and the 20th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The hockey world is still coming to terms with this trade and how it shakes up the landscape of the NHL. Let’s take some time to analyze this for both squads.
Winnipeg’s end of the deal
The Winnipeg Jets, while the initial reaction is understandably not very positive, do get their first rounder back in a very deep 2019 draft. That will help them as they continue to try to find the right pieces to compete for a Stanley Cup and there will still be some great prospects available at the 20th overall spot. While this draft is considered to be as unpredictable as any in recent memory the Jets will have their pick of quality prospects. WIth the trade of Trouba, the Jets should look to a guy like Sweden’s Tobias Bjornfot to eventually replace him on their blueline.
As for Neal Pionk, well this is a bit more complicated. During Pionk’s time in New York he showed flashes of being a good offensive defenseman but ultimately, he hasn’t shown any of the consistency that the Rangers hoped for. He had 26 points this past season which wasn’t bad at all but his plus-minus at a minus-16 was absolutely awful. The advanced stats also aren’t very kind to him as they paint him as one of the worst defensemen in the NHL last season. The thing is in Winnipeg, the Jets won’t force him into a top pair role. He can play on the bottom two pairs, or hopefully bottom pair where he is more suited, and have an easier time finding his way in the league. If Pionk can become a serviceable offensive defenseman for the Jets as the years go on, that would be good as they compete for a Stanley Cup.
The Jets defense pairing should look like this next season:
Josh Morrissey – Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot – Tyler Myers
Dmitry Kulikov – Neal Pionk
New York’s end of the deal
The Rangers acquire a 25-year-old right handed first pair defenseman. That is EXACTLY what they needed this offseason. Jacob Trouba, along with Brady Skjei and prospects K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Adam Fox and others will lead New York’s blueline into the future as they hope to get back to Stanley Cup contention. Trouba had eight goals and 42 assists last season for 50 points during his age 24/25 season and will be a cornerstone on the Rangers blue line for years to come. GM Jeff Gorton essentially turned three months of Kevin Hayes and Neal Pionk into Brenden Lemieux and Jacob Trouba. Fantastic job by the boss in New York. The Rangers have put their rebuild into overdrive and this Friday they will get the chance to add Kaapo Kakko or Jack Hughes at the entry draft in Vancouver. It has been an amazing year since the Rangers announced their plans to rebuild.
The Rangers defense corps should look like this next season:
Brady Skjei – Jacob Trouba
Libor Hajek – Adam Fox
Marc Staal – (prospect to be determined)