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Rumour: Colorado Avalanche targeting Jacob Trouba

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche coming up in a conversation of "teams looking for defencemen" is hardly surprising. With all due respect to Nick Holden, it may indicate a less-than-ideal situation when he's fourth among Avs d-men in ATOI. What might be of interest to Winnipeg Jets fans however, is when that conversation involves Jacob Trouba.

During June 4th's Saturday Headlines segment, the lovely and talented Elliotte Friedman mentioned not only how Colorado would be hesitant to move Barrie without adding help, but that Trouba may be targeted as said help. The video isn't embedded because Sportsnet still engages in the barbaric practice of autoplaying videos; click here to watch.

The relevant quote from Friedman:

"Tyson Barrie‘s future there is not that certain, but I don’t think they want to trade him until they can add some help. I believe one of their targets is Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. I’m not saying Winnipeg’s going to do it, but I think that’s a player Colorado would like to get its hands on and they'll make an effort to see if they can get something done."

And that's it. All that was said on the matter is in the above quote. Contrary to popular Twitter belief, there were exactly zero Matt Duchene name-drops and no mention of a swap involving both players, one-for-one or otherwise.

Matt Duchene is fantastic, but with the Jets poised to add another prospect to an already well-regarded system, it's difficult to imagine Winnipeg obtaining him. It's considerably more natural to connect Barrie and Trouba, given their vague similarity as "young, talented RHD" and exactly how Colorado's situation was framed (one is reminded of the New York Islanders' approach to trade talk involving Travis Hamonic, where they were reportedly looking for a similar defenceman in return).

A Very Basic Comparison

Let's take a quick look at both players' basic stats, beginning with Barrie (leaving out 2011-12 and 2012-13). As per NHL.com:

Barrie traditional

In the three seasons listed, Barrie's point totals ranked 29th8th and 13th among defencemen. Last year, 8th placed him between Kris Letang and Keith Yandle, while 13th this season made for a peg tied with Brent Seabrook and immediately below P.K. Subban. Barrie is in good company, in other words.

And now Trouba:

Trouba traditional

There is a stark contrast between the point totals of each player. Yes, much of Barrie's tally is boosted by power play points, however the difference between the two at 5v5 is tangible as well. As per Corsica Hockey, in 2015-16 Trouba had a 5v5 Points per 60 of 0.57, as opposed to Barrie's 0.90 P60. By this metric, Barrie ranked 46th among d-men with 400+ TOI, while Trouba was 132nd. Barrie had a higher 5v5 P60 than Duncan Keith; Trouba's P60 was tied with Zach Bogosian.

Fun fact: Barrie's 5v5 P60 of 0.90 came in below Winnipeg's own Tyler Myers, whose 1.03 P60 ranked 28th.

Let's shift gears to the aforementioned power play points. In 2015-16, Barrie's 21 PPP was 15th in the league among defencemen (Dustin Byfuglien was 23rd with 17 points). Barrie did this playing for a Colorado Avalanche special team which, while significantly better than Winnipeg's, was still an underwhelming 19th with a 18.0% conversion rate.

A look at 2015-16 shows a Winnipeg d-corps which could perhaps use another deft touch on the man advantage:

Winnipeg d-corps PPP

Differences in size and Average Time on Ice are worth highlighting as well. The 22-year-old Trouba finds himself listed at 6'3" and 202 lb, whereas 24-year-old Barrie is a fair bit smaller at 5'10" and 190 lb. As for ATOI:

Overall TOI/GP

EV TOI/GP

PP TOI/GP

SH TOI/GP

Tyson Barrie

23:11

19:33

03:07

00:30

Jacob Trouba

22:03

18:03

01:17

02:43

Barrie led the Avs not only in PP TOI/GP, but also EV TOI/GP. Going by usage (as well as 5v5 performance relative to teammates), it would be a mistake to characterize him as a power play specialist.

The Tyranny of Patrick Roy

So why might the Colorado Avalanche be looking to move on from their capable offensive d-man? The thoughts and philosophy of head coach Patrick Roy likely play a significant role. According to Terry Frei of the Denver Post, Roy "really wants to get a big, strong defence. I think he really believes that Tyson Barrie should be at best a fifth defenceman and a power play specialist". Not to question the Avs' player evaluation, but if this relaying of Roy's supposed opinion is correct, it sounds as if there may be some undervaluation at work.

This sentiment leads into the second factor: money. Coming off of his second contract, a two-year deal worth $2.6 million per, the Avs are now faced with an arbitration-eligible d-man who has 102 points in his last 158 games. If Roy & Co. aren't true believers in Barrie's top-end ability, looking to avoid his next contract makes sense.

Spitballing

There are a number of hypothetical trades involving Trouba and Barrie one can come up with, but this tweet in particular caught my eye:

This and any proposal obviously depend on how one values both Barrie and Trouba. Consideration of Barrie's stronger financial leverage and/or a high opinion of Trouba could make the above scenario imaginable.

The intriguing thing about this idea is how at 10th overall, it's quite possible that one of Olli Juolevi, Jakob Chychrun or Mikhail Sergachyov will still be available (and if they aren't, it means forwards such as Logan Brown, Tyson Jost and Clayton Keller are). The difference between 10th and 22nd is the difference between the just-mentioned players and Riley Tufte, Kale Clague, perhaps a Charlie McAvoy or German Rubtsov if you're lucky. Exciting prospects all, but perceived as being in a different tier for numerous reasons.

Even if one values Trouba more than Barrie, how much is the jump from 22nd to 10th worth?

Conclusion

To say the Colorado Avalanche are targeting Trouba does not mean that a) Jacob Trouba wants to be traded; or b) the Winnipeg Jets want to trade Jacob Trouba. It should also be reiterated how a Barrie-for-Trouba swap was not mentioned. In fact, Friedman's phrasing suggests adding Trouba to then allow for moving Barrie elsewhere.

However, while it's no guarantee of fire, there's been smoke surrounding both players individually for a while now. Whether for financial and/or other reasons, if Colorado and Winnipeg are looking at their trade options, there may be a direct fit between them worth investigating.

What say you? To what degree is a Trouba/Barrie swap a lateral move? Who would still need to be on the board to pull the trigger on "barrie and 10th for trouba and 22nd"? What contract demands would make you seriously consider moving Trouba? Share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!