Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25 - #4 - Jacob Trouba

Martin Rose

We look at the top 25 players under the age of 25 in the Winnipeg Jets organization, as voted by the authors of Arctic Ice Hockey.

This past season Jacob Trouba saw his stock rise exponentially. With a combination of a brilliant World Juniors, an All-Star NCAA season as a freshman, a competent stint playing against men in the World Championships, and an invite to the US Olympic camp, Trouba proved to the world that he is something to look out for.

With Zach Redmond and Bryan Little aging out, Jacob Trouba rises 3 spots, passing Paul Postma, in this summer's rankings. He nearly passed Alexander Burmistrov as well, with four out of nine writers voting for Jacob Trouba at the #3 spot.

Rank Player DOB Drafted Garret Tim Ben Ryan Trevor Derek Graham Daniel TJ
4 Jacob Trouba 26/02/1994
#9, 2012 3 4 4 3 4 3 4 5 3

Previous Rank: #7

Jacob MF Trouba

In 2010-11 Jacob Trouba took part of the US National Team Developmental Program. He scored 7 points in 31 games against USHL teams, the third best defensive production on the team. It should be noted that Seth Jones doubled that production, as the two will likely be compared for years to come. Trouba also played well in international tournaments, dominating the U17s where he won a silver medal and taking part in helping the U18 American squad win gold.

The next year we see a change in where Trouba elevated his offensive game, surpassing Jones for top defensemen and finishing with the 3rd highest points per game played on the whole team regardless of position. However, this offense didn't translate to the international tournaments where he only tallied 4 assists in 12 games between both the U18 and the U20 squads. Interestingly enough, this was during Jacob's draft season and when scouts started to question the young blue liner's offensive ceiling.

This is one example of a curious trend, where scouts tend overly weigh short tournaments over regular season play, whether that be WJC or the Memorial Cup. The thought process is usually along the lines of searching for clutch. In reality there has yet to be any significant statistical proof that there is a certain group of players who are "big game performers." The problem is that the small sample space magnifies short cold and hot that naturally occur. There's also the factor that most scouts only get to focus on a few potential prospects for in-depth analysis. For the most they only get a few viewings of everyone else. Because of this, scouts rely on tournaments where predominately all the top prospects come together in one local.

In the first round of the 2012 draft, Kevin Chevaldayoff chose Jacob Trouba with the ninth selection overall. Some were admittedly confused, as the highly touted Fillip Forsberg was still on the board. In fact, there was a particular author here at Arctic Ice Hockey who was nervous about the possible ramifications of that choice. Many of AIH's "favourite" readers will use this as evidence against the community, saying that AIH is overly negative and was also wrong. Ignoring that neither player has finished their NHL career to compare, this completely dismisses the fact that a certain editor here named TJ Maughan was elated with the decision. As was Chevy! Chevaldayoff once mentioned that the Jets had Trouba so high on their draft list that they were not even expecting a chance of choosing the Rochester native.

Then came Trouba's biggest season yet. Over at the University of Michigan, Jacob finished the season with 12 goals and 29 points in 37 games. The 12 goals were good enough for 1st defensemen on the team, 2nd defensemen in the NCAA and 3rd for all NCAA players under 19 years. Both his 0.78 points per a game played and his total points was good enough for 1st defensemen on the team, 7th defensemen in the NCAA, and 4th for all NCAA players under 19 years. Trouba then topped off these accolades with a MVP worthy performance at the World Junior Championships, leading defensemen in both goals and points, and even held his own against adults in the World Championships.

The glory of JMFT

If Jacob Trouba was in the armed forces, he'd be that guy with his chest covered in medals. Jacob's resume is quite impressive, especially for such a young age:

  • U17 silver medal
  • U18 gold medal (x2)
  • USHL All-Star Game selection
  • CCHA All-Rookie Team
  • CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman
  • CCHA First All-Star Team
  • NCAA-West First All-American Team (only freshmen that year and first UofM ever freshmen to win this)
  • U20 gold medal
  • U20 All-Star Team
  • U20 Best Defenseman
  • U20 Team 3 Stars
  • WHC bronze medal

The Future of MF-Jacob MF-Trouba

Jacob Trouba's ceiling is the stars. While there are no guarantees he will reach it, and there have many who have been as promising yet still failed, Trouba has some pretty massive potential. Corey Pronman said it best:

The Good: You could write just one word in this section, "everything," and it would be pretty close to accurate. Trouba is an exceptional talent who defends very well while also providing offense. He has high-end skating ability, with great mobility, power from his legs, and speed. He also plays a very physical brand of hockey, laying out big hits and showing good competitiveness in battles. Trouba closes gaps well, makes a lot of stops, and can transition the puck out after creating a turnover. He has above-average offensive instincts as a puck mover to combine with a bomb from the point. Trouba's offensive game is an element that really started to flourish last season.

Projection: He could be an All-Star defenseman.

While Trouba's future seems golden, it would be wise for Jets' fans to lower expectations of a huge NHL performance in 2013-14. The odds are heavily slanted against Trouba in gaining quality offensive minutes in the NHL. Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and Zach Bogosian are all in the top 10 for NHL defensemen 5v5 points per icetime for players with 500+ minutes over the last two seasons. Also, Zach Redmond, Grant Clitsome and Paul Postma are not that far behind. On top of this Enstrom-Byfuglien as a pair have consistently posted top 10 power play production for power play regulars, with Bogosian and Clitsome again not far behind. Paul Postma has even out-paced Enstrom, although his sample size is much smaller.

Currently the Jets have 4 left handed (Enstrom, Clitsome, Mark Stuart and Adam Pardy) and 3 right handed (Byfuglien, Bogosian and Postma) defensemen signed to 1-way contracts. Thus far, Claude Noel's tendency has been to try and carry 4 of each. With being a right handed shot, Jacob Trouba will likely be battling for that last spot with Zach Redmond. While Trouba does have greater pedigree than Redmond, Zach is a two time AHL All-Star defensemen and already has some NHL experience. The lack of prime offensive icetime, plus the crowded depth charts in RHD, may mean an AHL assignment with first callup status be the best interest for both Trouba and the team.



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