Jets Caught In a Good Situation with Prospect Trouba

It's time to see whether Kevin Cheveldayoff practices what he preaches.

It's also time to see if the Winnipeg Jets franchise is going to stay true to their word when it comes to young, promising prospects.

They have been on pace with their first ever draft pick in Mark Scheifele, as the young centre is playing in his second OHL playoffs since being drafted in 2011.  With only eleven games of NHL play in two seasons (at the start of the season mind you) and only one goal, it only made sense to not rush Scheifele and give him time to develop.

It would even make sense to play him an entire season in St. John's and the AHL to develop professionally before bringing him up full-time into the NHL.  Why not?  The Jets are in no hurry as their predecessors were, if some of the current players can give any proof of.

The Jets do not want Scheifele to become another Alexander Burmistrov – because they already have one player the likes of him – a player rushed into the NHL with only one year of junior hockey under his belt because of the need for upper class players in the lineup to put rear ends in seats in a non-hockey market.

Now that the team is in a hockey market, there is no need to that with Scheifele or any prospect for that matter.

That is why the Jets are in a good situation with their most recent first round pick – defenseman Jacob Trouba.

After a very solid rookie season in the NCAA with the University of Michigan where Trouba scored 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 37 games, there are whispers that Trouba is thinking of turning pro despite only one year of college hockey under his belt.

Trouba, who finished third in Wolverine scoring this season, is also up for many different awards, including CCHA rookie of the year, CCHA best offensive defenseman, not to mention he was a first-team CCHA All-Star to boot.

All in all, Trouba possesses the game the Jets needs – a player who has been described as having the tenacity, grit, and raw power of a Scott Stevens combined with the grace and elegance of a Nicklas Lidstrom.

While there is no doubt Trouba has the potential to be even better in his second year in the CCHA with the Wolverines, would the right choice be putting in a year (or two preferably for the Jets currently crowded blueline) in the AHL to learn the pro game before donning a Jets jersey full-time?

At this point, the situation is very uneasy depending on the decision Trouba makes followed by the choice the Jets make after.

For Trouba, if he were to state his intentions (which he would need to do soon) to the Jets that he would like to turn pro, the Jets would have to negotiate with him without an agent representing him since he is a college player (there are safeguards against taking advantage of a player without an agent and I'm sure Cheveldayoff and Jets management would be in all cases more than professional).  

If Trouba were to hire an agent to negotiate with the Jets his college eligibility would be forfeited.

If he were to reach a deal, he would be eligible to play in the AHL or NHL.

For the Jets, if they were to send him to St. John's, Trouba would have to sign an amateur tryout contract alongside his  regular entry level contract of three years.  However, an amateur tryout contract would forfeit his college eligibility again.

So for both parties, there is a fine line to be walked upon and there is no easy answer for either side.

For Trouba, it is the expectation that a good year in NCAA may mean that he could be ready to turn pro.  The question is: What level of pro?  AHL or NHL?

For the Jets, is there the need to rush Trouba?  The answer is a simple no.

Currently, the Jets have ten defenseman with the big club (including the injured Zach Redmond) and, at this point, have no need for an eleventh especially with the solid play of Ron Hainsey this season along with Derek Meech finally playing a full-time role in the NHL.

If any were to go down, the likes of other young defensemen, such as Paul Postma or Arturs Kulda, are both ready to jump into the lineup.

The only spot for Trouba to continue developing at any pro level without hindering his progress would be in St. John's, where they are without Postma, Kulda, and Redmond – the three big defensemen they relied upon last spring in their run to the AHL's Eastern Conference Finals.

Again, the Jets could simply let Trouba know their intentions of not rushing him along.  He has only one year of college hockey under his belt and another season (or even two) would not hurt his development of his skills and his body.

The Jets could simply use their example of how Mark Scheifele has been handled over the last two years.  Despite Scheifele's playing eleven games in two seasons with the team, there has been patience there that the Jets have needed.

For Trouba, the decision is still up in the air, but the situation could be good for both parties involved.