While his team continued to come unglued down at ice level, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made a bold step toward the future for his organization.
The Jets were on the ice losing their fourth straight game and further flushing their lead in the Southeast Division while the GM was putting the final strokes on an entry-level contract for first-round draft pick Jacob Trouba.
The signing comes at a good time for the organization and can hopefully be looked upon as another step toward a different era for a franchise that has consistently turned in terrible results dating back to its inception in Atlanta.
The Jets have a shallow talent pool but adding a player of defenceman Trouba's ability immediately improves that outlook.
Centre Mark Scheifele will either play in Winnipeg or St. John's next season and Cheveldayoff has 10 picks in this summer's draft, including six in the first three rounds. The turning over of this organization's soil is being executed in a methodical manner. Trouba is a product of that approach.
Talk about Trouba turning pro and leaving the University of Michigan had been bubbling ever since his college season ended 10 days ago, but it had seemed to cool over the weekend. Cheveldayoff indicated a deal between Trouba and the Jets came together very quickly on Tuesday.
"I am very pleased to announce we've come to terms. He'll be coming to Winnipeg. Jacob will join the team and get acclimated with the club," Cheveldayoff said during the second intermission of Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders.
Cheveldayoff said the contract had yet to be papered as of Tuesday night.
"At this point there's no expectations. We've talked to Jacob and his representatives and talked internally that this is more to get him acclimated to the pro ranks. There's really no expectations and no obligations and no one should expect anything in those regards," said Cheveldayoff, careful not to heighten already-soaring expectations as to what Trouba can immediately contribute.
"At the end of the day, this is a player who played college and has not had the opportunity to come into a pro training camp. He is 19 years old and it is still about development."
Shortly after, Trouba took to Twitter to announce his contract.
"I'm proud to be signing with the @NHLJets. Looking forward to starting my career with a great organization. #gojetsgo," wrote the 19-year-old.
Cheveldayoff said Trouba had some things to take care of in Michigan but would be in Winnipeg in the near future.
Jets fans got a good, long look at Trouba during the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship as he led the U.S. to a gold medal with the U.S. National Junior Team and was named the tournament's top defenceman.
Trouba has strong offensive instincts and also has a mean streak. He's exactly what the Jets need now and in the future. Trouba will likely have a limited role if any during the remainder of this season but he appears to be on the fast track to the NHL.
"His exploits in the world junior championship and what he's done at the college level are well-documented. But again, he's a 19-year-old player who now has the opportunity bring his game to the pro ranks," said Cheveldayoff. "He's a big guy that is very physical, he can skate and shoot the puck and we're just anxious to have the opportunity for our coaches to begin to make their evaluations and assessments within the organization."
Trouba was selected ninth overall by the Jets in last year's draft and he is listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds. He had 12 goals and 17 assists in 34 games with the Wolverines this season.
A finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year and the CCHA's Best Offensive Defenceman, Trouba was a first-team CCHA all-star. Trouba would be allowed five NHL games, regular-season or playoff, before the first year of his entry-level contract would come into effect. A sixth regular-season game would count as a year against his entry-level contract but would not be an accrued season toward free agency.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless
HEIGHT: 6-2AWARDS: USHL All-Star, 2011-12
WEIGHT: 194 lbsCHAMPIONSHIPS: World U-17 silver medal
SHOOTS: Right2013 World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal
2010-11U.S. Nat'l Development3134731-2
2011-12U.S. Nat't Development224141835+8
2012-13 U. of Michigan3712172988even