The trade ends months-long speculation surrounding the Jets’ plans with their pending restricted free agent. Trouba, who Winnipeg drafted ninth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was send to New York in exchange for young defenceman Neal Pionk and a 2019 first round draft pick.
The selection that Winnipeg was given as return from the Rangers was the Jets’ original pick sent to New York in February along with Brendan Lemieux, in return for the services of Kevin Hayes. With no contract in place, New York now has some added valuable time to negotiate a new contract with the young blueliner before he does, in fact, become an RFA. Now as a member of the Rangers, Trouba can sign up to a maximum eight-year deal with the red, white and blue.
The 25-year-old defender spent the past six seasons with the Jets, putting up 42 goals, 179 points and 297 penalty minutes in 408 career regular season games. He added two goals, six points and 23 penalty minutes in 27 career postseason contests. 2018-19 was somewhat of a ‘breakout’ campaign for the Rochester, MI. product, as he was able to take advantage of additional icetime due to significant injuries on Winnipeg’s blueline. He put up eight goals and a career-best 50 points in 82 games this past year.
In return, the Jets acquire the services of 23-year-old defenceman Neal Pionk of Omaha, NE. Despite playing on a bottom-feeder New York Rangers squad, the six-foot, 195-pound blueliner registered six goals and 26 points in 73 games for New York. He is expected to serve in an offensive role with Winnipeg the coming season.
Pionk – a former United States Hockey League star with the Sioux City Musketeers (2012-2015) – played two years of college hockey with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, putting together seasons of 17 (four goals, 13 assists) and 34 (seven goals, 27 assists) points. Pionk’s 2017-18 season was split between the Rangers (28 games) and American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolfpack (48 games). The second-year pro is coming off his entry-level contract and will be an RFA come July 1st. Winnipeg will now need to sign Pionk as well this offseason.
Jets’ General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff commented Monday evening on the Jets’ acquisition of a first round selection.
“I think it’s a really interesting draft,” Cheveldayoff said. “I think that there are going to be players that we are going to see at number 20 that we are going to have higher on our list. We feel pretty confident that we are going to get a good player there.” Chevy also hinted that Winnipeg was not done making moves following the Trouba trade, “This is probably an unprecedented time of communication between all the league general managers.”
With the Trouba situation no longer lingering on his mind, Cheveldayoff will now have an opportunity to turn his attention to the required contract negations with Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev, while also having a better picture of the assembling back-end.