Winnipeg Jets training camp is well underway and the club will suit up for its first pre-season game of the year Tuesday night, but hanging over the start of a brand new campaign for the franchise is the trade request of 22-year-old restricted free agent Jacob Trouba.
Trouba’s trade request became public Saturday in a statement from Trouba’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, and the statement listed opportunity and the chance to play on his forehand side as the biggest issues with remaining in Winnipeg.
Overhardt reiterated those points Monday when speaking with TSN 1290’s Gary Lawless and Andrew Paterson, and Overhardt said that even though the trade request and discussions have been ongoing since May, the public announcement of the request needed to be made in order to offer an explanation for Trouba’s absence from training camp following Trouba’s and Team North America’s elimination from the World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s a private matter,” Overhardt told TSN 1290. “But coming all the way to camp, and especially now that the World Cup’s over for Jacob with the North American team, we just thought it was necessary to be transparent and explain why he is not at camp.”
Beyond explaining the reason for the public nature of the request, Overhardt shed some light on what has gone on behind the scenes when it comes to Trouba’s contract situation with Winnipeg. For the past several months, speculation has been that the defenseman and the Jets have been far apart in contract discussions in about every way — be it term, money or playing time — but Overhardt said that’s not quite the case.
Overhardt told TSN 1290 that since May, when Trouba made his initial trade request, there hasn’t been any contract negotiations. No debates about term, no debates about money and no debates about playing time. Rather, the two sides haven’t talked about a deal.
“Like I said in the press release,” Overhardt told TSN 1290. “Over the past several months we have not negotiated a contract.”
Overhardt told Lawless and Paterson that there’s also “a lot more to the picture.” Overhardt said hockey-related issues, decisions and conversations have all been taken into account with regard to Trouba’s request, but most interesting was Overhardt’s comment about Trouba’s playing time in his second and third seasons in the NHL.
“If my client had the opportunity to grow off of what he did his first year of entry-level contract three years ago…we wouldn’t be having the conversation,” Overhardt told TSN 1290. “But the organization made some personnel decisions, made some trades, brought in some great players, secured a great player, and because of that that’s why we’re at where we’re at it.”
Asked if Trouba would reconsider his stance were one of the Jets’ top-four defensemen — more specifically Dustin Byfuglien or Tyler Myers, the two right-handed shots blocking Trouba on the depth chart — Overhardt said he wasn’t about to deal in “hyperbole,” and that he “might as well ask…if the moon was orange.” Overhardt continued by saying the question was without merit, and the fact of the matter is there isn’t “two spots currently in the top-four on the right side.”
As this Trouba saga drags on, though, Lawless pointed out that there will be one key date to watch out for: Dec. 1.
Restricted free agents who haven’t signed contracts by Dec. 1 become ineligible to play for the remainder of the campaign, and as it stands, that date is roughly two months away. The original trade request was made in May, according to Trouba’s statement, which means roughly five months have passed without a deal being made to ship the rearguard elsewhere.
If the Jets are staunch in their asking price and won’t budge unless they get a return for Trouba they see fit, it could end up that the Dec. 1 deadline comes and goes without Trouba landing elsewhere or signing a deal. Overhardt told TSN 1290 that’s something he and Trouba will deal with if it comes to pass, though, and it sure sounds as if Trouba has played his final game in Winnipeg.
“I think we’ve made our statement, I think our statement is clear, I don’t think there’s any ambiguity in what our statement was,” Overhardt told TSN 1290. “This is not a negotiating ploy. I’ve been asked that several times. The rest of our conversations with the club will be private.”
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