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This article was published 10/3/2017 (1518 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jacob Trouba’s contract extension — beyond the two-year, US$6-million deal he signed with the Winnipeg Jets last fall — remains a subject of interest.
"I haven’t put much thought into it," the 23-year-old defenceman said Friday. "I’ll think about it at the end of the year. I mean, I’m happy with how things have gone this year, personally. I think we could still improve as a team and we’ve got places where we want to go, so there’s definitely room to grow."
Trouba signed his current deal on Nov. 7 after missing 15 games due to a contract holdout. He publicly stated his desire to play on the right side (he is right-handed) after being pencilled in to play left side in a pairing with Dustin Byfuglien. But an injury to right-handed veteran Tyler Myers on Nov. 11 has put Trouba where he wanted to be.
"Well, it’s a product of who we have — and Tyler being injured, obviously, has played a role in everything," Trouba said. "So, yeah, it just one of those things. The opportunity ended up coming and you’ve gotta make the most of things."
In 51 games, Trouba has scored six goals and 27 points, with a plus-7 rating, while joining with rookie Josh Morrissey to form the Jets’ most-dependable blue-line pairing. In Wednesday’s 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Trouba registered a season-high seven hits and seven shots on goal.
"That’s always something I thought I could do," Trouba said, noting the quality of play he has delivered from the right side. "I mean, it’s the position I’ve played my whole life."
Down the stretch
Entering Friday’s action, the Jets were five points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with 14 games left to play. The Blues, who hosted the Anaheim Ducks Friday night, had three games in hand on the Jets. The Los Angeles Kings, also out of a wild-card spot but four points up on Winnipeg, had two games in hand on the Jets.
"We understand we pretty much have to win out," Jets forward Mathieu Perreault said. "It’s still possible for us to do if we win tomorrow and we can look after the next one. But like I’ve said, all the teams in front of us at one point in the season, had a really (good) stretch where they win 10 or 15 games in a row. A bunch of wins, which is basically what we have to do. It doesn’t matter if you do it in the first 15 games or last 15 — we can still do it now."
Losses this week to last spring’s Stanley Cup finalists, the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins, highlighted the gap between the Jets and elite teams.
"I liked our game against San Jose; we played well," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. "I liked half of our game against Pittsburgh. But what Pittsburgh did wasn’t based on skill level in my mind. Some of it is because they come up with so many of the puck battles. Their hand skills are good, they knock that down. But it’s speed and a real competitive game that they play. We do that and (we) get to that level. We’re just not as consistent with it as Pittsburgh or San Jose."
Of Winnipeg’s 14 remaining games, 10 are against teams currently holding down a playoff spot... The Jets now have lost 266 man-games to injury... Jets right-winger Patrik Laine continues to lead the NHL rookie scoring race with 32 goals and 59 points in 60 games.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.