Friday, July 19, 2019

Jacob Trouba Autographed Card

After acquiring Jacob Trouba in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets in mid-June, the New York Rangers have now signed the restricted free agent to a fair $56M seven-year deal worth $8M against the salary cap, avoiding arbitration.

They now have a legitimate top-tier defenseman who, at age 25, is set to enter his prime - unlike their prized 2017 free agent Kevin Shattenkirk, who has seemingly and prematurely just stepped out of his, although in fairness, Shattenkirk should never have been considered any higher than a #3 defenseman.

This leads me to the right side of the Rangers' defense, which now consists of the following players and cap hits:
Trouba, $8M
Shattenkirk: $6.5M (10-team no-trade list)
Brendan Smith: $4.35M (15-team no-trade list)
Adam Fox: a maximum of $1.75M if all bonuses are reached.
That's to go with the left side, made up of:
Brady Skeij: $5.25M
Marc Staal: $5.7M (full no-move clause)
Libor Hajek: $833K
Keep in mind the salary cap is $80.5M, a team needs 12 forwards in uniform (and this one has $11.64M man Artemi Panarin), one or two more as reserves and a pair of goalies. Oh, and the Rangers have one of the best of the millennium in Henrik Lundqvist, a luxury which comes with a $8.5M hit.

The Blueshirts have four remaining unsigned restricted free agents (forwards Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux and Vinni Lettieri, and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo), none of whom are likely to break the bank this year, but the Rags already being over the cap by a couple of million only complicates things.

The most obvious solutions include trading one of the defensemen (with or without retaining salary to sweeten the deal), or trading pending UFA forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and/or Chris Kreider, who are both on affordable and good-value deals at $4M and $4.5M respectively, but in the straight "dollars-and-cents" perspective coupled with trade value, may be easiest to move.

It's a puzzle, that's for sure, but that's when GM Jeff Gorton will have to prove he's got what it takes to justify making the big bucks. He's definitely got the foundations of a Stanley Cup contender on his hands, maybe not to take a run at it this year, but they should have a decent window in two or three years.

Here is a card Trouba signed for me in February:
It's #394 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee collection, showing him wearing the Jets' white (away) uniform.

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