An attractive asset became available to the Detroit Red Wings when news of Jacob Trouba’s trade request from the Winnipeg Jets rocked the hockey world on the weekend. It came during the tense second period of the World Cup of Hockey’s semi-final game between Canada and Russia. Suddenly, every Detroit Red Wings fan’s attention was ripped from their television and focused on their Twitter feeds. What will the Jets do? Where will Trouba go?
It’s no secret that the Red Wings biggest need is on defense. Every since Brian Rafalski and Nick Lidstrom retired, their blueline just hasn’t been the same. Having Niklas Kronwall lessened the blow, but with every passing season, Kronwall is a year older. His body just doesn’t hold up the way it used to. The Red Wings are now in a position where they have no top-two defensemen and only two right-handed shots.
Are you starting to understand why Red Wings fans are paying attention to the Trouba situation?
Both relevant parties released statements yesterday evening. Trouba’s said that his decision to request a trade has nothing to do with the city of Winnipeg or the organization. He just wants to play on the right side and the Jets have too much depth on that side. This is a problem that would not exist in Detroit.
The Jets’ statement, on the other hand, said that Trouba was still part of the organization’s long-term plans and no further statement would be made until the matter is resolved. The message from Kevin Cheveldayoff, then, is fairly straightforward: If you want Jacob Trouba, it’s going to cost you.
The Going Rate
But what is the going rate for a top-two, right-handed defenseman? For an answer, one needs only look at one of the bigger transactions this summer. By trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson one-for-one, Peter Chiarelli, and the Edmonton Oilers set a very high value for a top-two to top-four defenseman. Let’s have a look at how Trouba compares to Larsson to see if the Jets can reap a similar return:
At first glance, these two players seem to be pretty similar. Trouba has a bit more of an offensive upside, but he also sees more time on the powerplay than Larsson does. The real differentiator between these two players, which is the one thing that makes Trouba more valuable, is their possession numbers. In 2015-16, Trouba posted an even-strength Corsi for percentage of 51.75, while Larsson only managed 44.59. And this isn’t just a one-time fluke. Looking at their career numbers, Trouba has the better average even-strength Corsi for of 51.75 percent compared to Larsson’s 48.56.
So What Is Trouba Worth To The Red Wings?
For one, Trouba’s young and has a very high ceiling. At twenty-two years old, he’d be the youngest defenseman on the team and has cracked the 20 point barrier in each of his three NHL seasons. On a team that had nearly 600 turnovers last season, he’d help considerably in puck possession with the way he carries the puck up the ice and sets up in the offensive zone. Trouba had a better even strength Corsi for percentage than four of Detroit’s six active defensemen last season. Interestingly enough, Brendan Smith had the best percentage at 56.93, and he played the fewest amount of games due to being a healthy scratch. Detroit would immediately place Trouba in a top-two or top-four role.
But, as we’ve seen with Larsson, a trade for Trouba won’t come easy. Detroit doesn’t have a recent number one overall draft pick to trade. They’ve got some intriguing active forwards, a glut of young defensemen who risk being exposed to waivers and draft picks. How do you match Taylor Hall in average forwards, young defensemen, and draft picks? It starts with something like Gustav Nyquist, Xavier Ouellet, and a first round draft pick in 2017. In this deal, the Jets get a promising young left-handed defenseman, a top-six forward, and (likely) a top-15 draft selection. It’s not a bad deal, but Trouba is an undoubtedly talented player with a high value attached to his position. So the Jets would likely counter asking for more, perhaps something like Anthony Mantha, Ouellet, and the 2017 first round draft pick.
Here is where it starts to get murky. Just how much should Detroit give up for this defenseman? Well, they have an abundance of forwards this year. Fans criticized Holland’s offseason moves in that they limit opportunities for young players such as Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou to develop at the NHL level. This team has a history of over-ripening its prospects, Mantha and Athanasiou are going to have to work extra hard to log NHL minutes this year. That being said, it is absolutely worth it for Detroit to give up Mantha, Ouellet, and their 2017 first round draft pick. If Mantha and Ouellet aren’t going to get ice time anyways, the Red Wings might as well pick up an NHL-ready right-handed defenseman for them.
This is an asset that the Red Wings desperately need if they want to continue their playoff streak and remain competitive against teams in their division. The young forwards on these teams get better and better every year and Detroit is not keeping up. Not to mention that their division rivals are likely also kicking tires on Trouba. Especially the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, both of whom are in rebuild mode and would love the energy a young puck moving defenseman like Trouba could bring to their roster.
So Holland has got to get on this fast and find a way to add Trouba to his roster. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around often and the perfect fix to a glaringly obvious problem with the roster. And if he makes the trade now, they could even keep the travel costs down.
What do you think? Should the Red Wings make an offer? Who would you give up to add Jacob Trouba to the roster?