Jets D Trouba likely to make debut vs. Stars
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — To boo or not to boo.
That's the question Winnipeg Jets fans will be asking themselves if defenseman Jacob Trouba skates out on the ice as expected Tuesday evening at the MTS Centre against the Dallas Stars.
The restricted free agent finally put his name on a contract after sitting out the first part of the season, a two-year deal that will pay him $2.5 million for the remainder of the campaign and $3.5 million for 2017-18.
“It's something we're very excited to be able to announce today,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said in Monday afternoon conference call. “Obviously, lots of work goes into these kinds of things. Having the opportunity to meet with Jacob. His representative (agent Kurt Overhardt) and I have constant dialogue for a long period of time and today we were able to come to terms.”
Some early speculation had the Jets trading Trouba to a U.S.-based team. Trouba, who was not made available to the media on Monday, had demanded a trade after complaining during the summer about not being able to play his natural right-hand side on Winnipeg's crowded blue line.
The Jets have compiled a 5-7-1 record during his absence and weren't feeling much pressure to sign the 22-year-old because other youngsters, notably Josh Morrissey, had stepped into the void.
The Stars come into Winnipeg with a record of 4-5-3, but get the tie-breaker over the Jets because they have played one fewer game. The two teams have split their first two games of the season, a 3-2 victory by the Stars in Dallas on Oct. 25 and a 4-1 win two nights later in Winnipeg.
The Stars are playing their fifth contest in eight nights and coach Lindy Ruff said his biggest priority is finding time for his players to rest.
“To let them pour it all out for 60 minutes and then making sure, as a coach, that we don't overextend away from the game,” Ruff said. “It's going to be a mental grind, and I have to do a good job once that game's over, whether it's good or bad, to get them away from it.”
The clock was ticking for Trouba. If he didn't sign a contract prior to Dec. 1, Trouba wouldn't have been able to play in the NHL all season and he would have lost an entire year toward his eventual unrestricted free agency.
Trouba will be a sight for sore eyes considering the sore bodies currently in the Jets' sick bay. No less than seven regulars have been out of the lineup, including defensemen Tyler Myers and Mark Stuart and forwards Mathieu Perreault, Shawn Matthias, Bryan Little, Drew Stafford and Joel Armia.
The Stars have some injury woes of their own, most recently center Jason Spezza, who went down with a lower-body ailment on Saturday night.
After initial concern that he could be out of the lineup for a lengthy period, he has since been upgraded to day-to-day. Center Ales Hemsky will be out several months after having hip surgery.