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Jacob Trouba will earn $5.5 million next season with the Winnipeg Jets after an arbitrator broke a contract stalemate Sunday between the organization and their top-pairing defenceman.
With the parties unable to agree on a long-term extension, outside help was required. Trouba requested $7 million through his arbitration filings, while the Jets countered with a $4 million offer.
Arguments were heard Friday morning in Toronto in a marathon hearing that began at 9 a.m. local time and didn’t wrap up until close to 2:30 p.m. The arbitrator then had up to 48 hours to render a decision. During that time, Trouba and the Jets could continue to talk in the hopes of arriving at a last-minute resolution.
But there was apparently no deal to be made. In the end, the arbitrator met the player and team at exactly the halfway point.
Winnipeg has 48 hours now to accept the ruling, or decline it and render Trouba an unrestricted free agent.
Trouba will once again be a restricted free agent next summer, meaning this whole process could repeat itself again. However, the Jets would only control his services for one more season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020.
Sunday’s decision will certainly accelerate talks of a potential trade, given that the team likely won’t want to risk losing the talented blue-liner for nothing.
Trouba, 24, was coming off a two-year bridge deal with an annual cap hit of US$3 million. That was signed during a contentious 2017-16 season in which Trouba demanded a trade, sat out training camp and skipped the first 13 regular-season games.
The Michigan product was selected ninth-overall by the Jets in the 2012 NHL draft. He has 34 goals and 95 assists in 326 regular-season games.
Last season, Trouba had three goals and 21 assists in 55 games while also battling a concussion and ankle injury. He also had a pair of goals and three points in 17 post-season games.
After the Jets were knocked out of the Western Conference final in May, Trouba publicly expressed a desire to remain in Winnipeg for the long-term.
“Quicker the better. You get the sense there’s a little unfinished business, I guess, here with this team. We all have such good relationships on this team, it’s fun to be part of. It’s a special team. You want to play for a contender, and that’s what we have here,” he said.
Winnipeg entered this off-season with a slew of restricted free agents, including five who filed for salary arbitration. They have already locked up goalie Connor Hellebuyck (six years, $37-million) and centre Adam Lowry (three years, $8.75 million).
With Trouba’s contract issue now complete, focus shifts to the remaining cases. Forward Brandon Tanev has an arbitration hearing set for Wednesday, while forward Marko Dano is slated to have his case heard on July 30.
Defencemen Josh Morrissey and Tucker Poolman, along with depth players in goalie Eric Comrie and forwards Nic Petan, JC Lipon and Nic Kerdiles also need new deals but don’t have arbitration rights.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.