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Off Season Anxiety Level Check In – Part One – The Jacob Situation

Kevin Cheveldayoff has no time to hang out with friends and have fun this summer. It’s time to clock in and get to work!

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Chicago Blackhawks Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ season ended much sooner than most of us expected and hoped for. We all knew that the summer of ’19 would be a busy, important one for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. It’s no easy task being a GM in a salary cap world in any sport. Chevy has done an amazing job assembling the Jets to date. However, the Jets now have some significant decisions to make in terms of UFA’s and RFA’s, both for top end and bottom end talent. The entire hockey world will be watching as Chevy tries to navigate these very tricky waters. For the first time in his tenure as Jets GM, I’d say that the seat is warming up slightly for Chevy.

While the contracts for Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine will have a greater impact on the Jets future, I’d say that the most important and pressing situation Chevy has to address is Jacob Trouba. So, let’s check in with how I’m currently doing using the arbitrary three-level anxiety level scale, pertaining to the Jacob Situation:

Not At All Worried

Moderately Worried

Panic/Losing Sleep Worried

Jacob Trouba – Panic/Losing Sleep Worried

I think we have enough evidence to suggest that Trouba does not want to be a Jet long term. His season end media session did nothing to change that perception. Chevy in the year end media session was consistent in how he addresses questions pertaining to UFA’s and RFA’s – he did not address them. He did say that he will do what is in the best interests of the team. What that looks like is open to interpretation, and is the source of my anxiety.

My worry is that I hope Chevy realizes that in the best interests of the team, you have to trade a player who clearly does not want to be here (so says me, fantasy GM). I don’t subscribe to the belief that a team should just give a player a qualifying offer and have him be their own disgruntled, rental player. If a player of that caliber wants to leave, trade him. No good comes from having a player in the locker room that is focussed on being elsewhere.

I’m okay with having a bottom end or mid-level talent player reach UFA status and potentially leave a team for nothing (see Myers, Tyler). However, it’s never good to let a top end talent become a UFA and leave for nothing. There are circumstances where a team and/or player are truly uncertain about whether they will re-sign, such as John Tavares. I think he legitimately considered re-signing, but in the end went to the team of his boyhood jammies. No fault of the Islanders there for taking a swing at it. There’s really no point going down that path with Trouba.

One argument is to wait until next year’s trade deadline, because maybe Trouba’s value rises. I disagree first that his value would be any higher then, and second, because it would be more disruptive. I’d much rather start training camp without him, potentially with a new player received for him, than to disrupt a team likely fighting for a playoff spot next February.

Trouba’s value is at least a first round pick and a prospect. Jake Muzzin fetched a first round pick and two B level prospects. Trouba is better than Muzzin. Of course there is the argument that his value is diminished by the fact that the entire NHL will know he wants out, and some may be content to wait until he is a UFA. I think that argument is less valid these days.

Waiting for UFA’s and bidding on them is such gamble in any salary cap league. You have to essentially plan a couple of years down the road, ensure you have cap space at that time, and then bid against unknown multiple suitors with no guarantee that the player will choose your team. We’ve seen that strategy backfire so many times in the NBA, NFL and NHL. If a team really wants a player and has the cap space now, I think they go after them and try to trade for them, like Vegas did with Mark Stone. So, I’m certain that there will be multiple suitors for Trouba.

So, what say you readers? Trade Trouba? When? For what? Offer him a hug, a huge contract and free ice cream for life at Bridge Drive Inn? Help me deal with my sleepless nights.