Sports Hockey

Six teams that may be interested in Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba

By Michael Traikos, Postmedia Network

Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba has asked the team for a trade because he feels he is low on the defensive depth chart. (Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Files)

Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba has asked the team for a trade because he feels he is low on the defensive depth chart. (Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Files)

Here we go again.

Another year, another player demanding a trade from the team that drafted him. Jonathan Drouin, Travis Hamonic and Patrick Marleau all pulled the same stunt last season and when it was all said and done, all three ended up staying with their respective clubs.

So the fact Jacob Trouba has requested a trade from the Jets, because he doesn’t believe there is an opportunity for him on the right side on defence, doesn’t actually mean he will in fact be moved.

That’s not to say that plenty of teams won’t try to acquire the 22-year-old defender.

In three seasons in the NHL, the 6-foot-3, 202-pound Trouba has already established himself as a steady defenceman who can play in all situations — he led the Jets in penalty kill minutes — and provide plenty of offensive pop (10 goals as a rookie and six goals and 21 points last season).

What’s it going to take? Well, here are six teams that are in the market for a defenceman and could have the assets to pull off the deal.

TORONTO

Why they want him: The Leafs have a franchise centre in Auston Matthews and what they believe is a No. 1 goalie in Frederik Andersen. Now it’s time to work on the defence. Toronto passed on Noah Hanifin and instead drafted Mitch Marner with the fourth-overall pick in 2015, which gave them a winger who might grow up to become the next Johnny Gaudreau — or better. But what the team needs more right now is a top-pairing defenceman to play with Morgan Rielly.

What it will take: The Jets would obviously want Rielly, which is a non-starter for the Leafs. Maybe Jake Gardiner is a starting point, but it might also take either a first-round pick (lottery-protected, of course) or a top-end prospect such as William Nylander.

BOSTON

Why they want him: Zdeno Chara, who has two more seasons remaining on his contract, is 39 years old and slowing down. After trading Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk in recent years, the Bruins are left with Torey Krug and Joe Morrow as the future of an underwhelming defence.

What it will take: Connor Hellebuyck is Winnipeg’s goalie of the future, but prospect Malcolm Subban (first-round pick in 2012) could provide the Jets with even more depth in net. Or if it’s a defenceman that the Jets want, Jakub Zboril (13th overall in 2015) and Charlie McAvoy (14th overall, 2016) are interesting options.

BUFFALO

Why they want him: Like the Leafs, the Sabres have a No. 1 centre in Jack Eichel and what they hope is a No. 1 goalie in Robin Lehner (that is, if he can ever stay healthy long enough to play a full season). But where the team is lacking is on defence. Rasmus Ristolainen is a stud, but aside from Zach Bogosian and the recently acquired Dmitry Kulikov, a significant drop-off exists.

What it will take: These two teams have a history of helping each other with their roster problems (see: the Evander Kane trade), so don’t be surprised if Buffalo and Winnipeg work something out again. But it won’t be easy. The Jets would probably be looking for Ristolainen, who is also in a contract dispute. If you’re the Sabres, is getting Trouba an upgrade, a lateral move or worse?

VANCOUVER

Why they want him: The Canucks acquired Erik Gudbranson over the summer, but their defence still needs work, especially when you consider they play in a division with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau and the San Jose Sharks. Trouba would be a perfect complementary player for Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton, not to mention the aging Alexander Edler.

What it will take: The tough part about trading for Trouba is that the Jets probably want a defenceman back in return. In other words, forget about Trouba and Olli Juolevi (fifth overall in 2016) playing together in the future, because it would likely take trading Juolevi to get Trouba.

DETROIT

Why they want him: Because Nicklas Lidstrom is retired and the Red Wings are still looking for his replacement. Trouba, who was born in Rochester, Mich., and attended the University of Michigan, is a natural fit. He might not be a future Norris Trophy winner, but with Niklas Kronwall getting older, he would give Detroit a stud defenceman to complement forwards Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

What it will take: Anthony Mantha, the 6-foot-5, 221-pound power forward who has been biding his time in the minors, is exactly the type of big body every team in the Western Conference covets. Toss in defenceman Danny DeKeyser or a top-end prospect (Evgeny Svechnikov or Dennis Cholowski) and this trade looks even more appealing.

NEW JERSEY

Why they want him: Acquiring Taylor Hall in the summer gave the Devils a legitimate top-line sniper. But giving up Adam Larsson in the trade meant they also lost their No. 1 defenceman. Cup-winning defenceman Ben Lovejoy signed as a free agent in the summer, but he’s not a replacement. For New Jersey to maintain its philosophy of low-scoring games, another top-end defenceman is needed.

What it will take: Pavel Zacha, who was the sixth-overall pick in 2015, had two assists in his one and only game with the Devils last season. He alone might not get the deal done, but adding goalie prospect Mackenzie Blackwood could sweeten the pot.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Traikos



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