Jacob Trouba is a right shot, restricted free agent defenseman who plays in the Eastern Conference.
This is about all that the 25-year-old Trouba has in common with unsigned Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy after Trouba signed a seven-year, $56 million contract last week with the New York Rangers that will make him the No. 1 defenseman on Broadway for the foreseeable future for a rebuilding group of Blueshirts.
Well, they will also have shared David Quinn as a head coach when Trouba starts playing for the Rangers this fall.
But that’s it. That’s all, folks.
Some will attempt to draw Trouba in as a comparable to McAvoy in contract talks between the young D-man and the Boston Bruins, and on the surface that might make some sense. In simple terms, they are both RFAs and they both play the defenseman position, and they are both in the “future/possible No. 1 defenseman” category.
But they are far from comparable as players. Trouba is an established player who hit 50 points last season, played all 82 games and averaged 22:53 of ice time during a strong final campaign with the Winnipeg Jets.
Trouba has topped 22 minutes of ice time per game in all but one of his six solid NHL seasons with Winnipeg, and has averaged seven goals and 30 points over the course of a Jets career that began as an 18-year-old D-man prodigy. He’s missed time with injuries over the years and he’s clearly a two-way defenseman rather than “offensive defenseman” when it comes to performance.
But Trouba is also exactly what the scouts are looking for as a top D-man with the size (6-foot-3, 202-pounds), skating and ability to do a lot of different things well while winning his share of battles in the defensive zone.
McAvoy is one of the aforementioned No. 1 prototype defensemen as well, but he’s still very much in-the-making when it comes to development. McAvoy has played two NHL seasons as he hits restricted free agency for the first time this summer, and lags far behind Trouba when it comes to actually proving his potential.
At the same crossroads in their development, Trouba signed a two-year, $6 million contract extension and then followed that up with a one-year deal in Winnipeg for $5.5 million this past season. All the while, whispers about trades and offer sheets were out there for Trouba as it was clear the Winnipeg D-man was looking to get back to a US market at some point.
That finally happened with the trade to New York.
McAvoy, on the other hand, has topped out at seven goals and 32 points in the better of his two NHL seasons (his rookie campaign) and has missed a whopping 47 games due to injuries in his first two seasons. So there is still much more to be proven by the 21-year-old before he gets the kind of massive payday that Trouba just leveraged with New York.
McAvoy also can’t be tendered with an offer sheet by other NHL teams this summer because he has fewer than three full years of NHL service based on the 40-game rule adopted by the league when it comes to restricted free agents. His only two options are to sign the contract offer given to him by the Bruins or sit out the NHL regular season if he isn’t satisfied by what the Bruins offer him.
Trouba’s last contract is much more along the line of what McAvoy can expect this time around with his second contract, whether it’s a short-term bridge deal or something in the six-year, $36 million range that comparable players like Esa Lindell and others signed.
The best course of action for both the Bruins and McAvoy, as we’ve mentioned a couple of times?
It would be sign a bridge contract for a couple of years where the young D-man gets the $5-6 million per season based on his closest comparable players (Lindell, for one), and puts together the kind of dominant seasons that would put him closer to the Trouba/Ekblad max contract neighborhood a couple of years from now that he’s clearly aspiring to at this point.
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