RALEIGH, N.C. -- One tempest after another has swirled around Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba this season.

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Jacob Trouba: 12 points in 55 games

Jacob Trouba: 12 points in 55 games

RALEIGH, N.C. -- One tempest after another has swirled around Winnipeg Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba this season.

The 21-year-old, cast in the role of a veteran for all practical purposes, had a tough time getting out of the starting gate. Once untracked and into rhythm, his camp's initial proposal for a long, lucrative contract extension became public. Those talks were put on hold early in the NHL season and will be left to the coming off-season, when Trouba's entry-level deal is expiring.

If there's no agreement before July 1, he'll be a restricted free agent.

And lately, especially with last week's news of teammate Dustin Byfuglien getting a five-year, US$38-million extension, Trouba's name is being tossed into trade rumours as frequently as there are conversations about the weather.

'You're here to play. I want to play (in Winnipeg). I'm here through the end of this year, and that's what I'm focused on. It's nothing to worry about right now for me' ‐ Jacob Trouba

Some pundits wonder whether the Jets can (or want to) afford Trouba for the long term. Others link his name to a possible swap with the New York Islanders, who have a pending trade request from Manitoba native Travis Hamonic.

Last week, one New York reporter said the Isles weren't interested. On the weekend, another prominent NHL blogger suggested the Islanders were really interested.

Who knows?

The third-year defenceman seemed not bothered a bit after Monday's practice at PNC Arena, where the Jets will meet the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.

"It means nothing, really," Trouba said. "I don't really pay attention too much. It's definitely something new for me. I haven't really been around that. But it's one of those things you can't really control, so why worry about it?

"That's how I kind of look at it. I just go out and play. That's out of my control and I don't really think too much about it or even spend too much time pondering it."

He said he has not discussed the depth of the rumours with his agent, Kurt Overhardt.

"Not really," Trouba said. "You're here to play. I want to play (in Winnipeg). I'm here through the end of this year, and that's what I'm focused on. It's nothing to worry about right now for me."

The games -- the Jets have 27 remaining in the NHL's regular season -- are way more worthy of his attention, Trouba said.

"From the start of the year, our goal has been to get to the playoffs," he said. "So if we can just get on a little roll here, we're not in a terrible spot. We're definitely still in the hunt and we have a chance and we just need to get on a roll and see what we can do."

The Jets (25-27-3) were eight points off the Western Conference playoff line prior to Monday's games. Their current road trip has three more games to go: tonight in Raleigh, Thursday in Tampa and Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.

Trouba, the ninth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, has found himself in a number of different spots in the Jets rotation this season, as head coach Paul Maurice tries to feed his talented right side -- that includes Byfuglien and Tyler Myers -- with enough minutes.

The Michigan native has even found himself playing on the left side at times, and is averaging 21 minutes 32 seconds per game through 55 games.

"I don't have much in the way preferences," Trouba said. "Throughout the game, I'm usually switching sides. I'm kind of all over the place. Just trying to focus on what I do and that's probably the best thing for me to do whoever I'm paired with or whoever I played will.

"It's just better to worry about myself."

Tonight, the Jets bring a six-game, road unbeaten streak into the PNC Arena.

"I think we're skating pretty well," Trouba said. "That's a big thing for us. We're battling on pucks and, when our battle is there and when we're moving our feet, we're quick and I think that's when we're at our best, when we're skating and on the forecheck.

"We get in there and rattle around at little bit, that's when we're good. We know when to make plays and when to cut our losses and kind of dump it in. Sometimes, it doesn't take a crazy or creative play, but that's what works for us."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca