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Jacob Trouba will have a contract in place this summer and will be a willing participant at Winnipeg Jets training camp in the fall.
The 24-year-old defenceman filed for binding salary arbitration today — one of five Jets’ restricted free agents eligible to take that route. That means Trouba can’t accept an offer sheet from another NHL team and will be back with the Jets next season. Only a trade would prevent that from happening.
Connor Hellebuyck, who played in the NHL all-star game and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder, also elected to file for arbitration, as did physical centre Adam Lowry, shot-blocking checker Brandon Tanev and forward Marko Dano.
Trouba is coming off a two-year bridge deal that carried an annual salary-cap hit of US$3 million. He signed the contract in 2016, after requesting a trade, sitting out training camp and missing 13 games of the 2016-17 season.
Filing for salary arbitration has become a normal part of NHL business. The two sides can continue to negotiate until a hearing date is set. Most players who file for salary arbitration reach a deal before the hearing date.
If not, players’ representatives and the team management submit a contract proposal, and an arbitrator decides what the player is worth. Salary arbitration hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to Aug. 4.
Last year, Trouba scored three goals and added 21 assist in 55 games, and added two goals and one assist during Winnipeg’s 17-game playoff run.
It’s expected Josh Morrissey’s defensive partner is looking for a substantial raise, at least doubling his salary.
Hellebuyck is coming off a one-year deal for US$2.25 million. The 25-year-old took the starting role from Steve Mason a week into the 2017-18 season and rolled through a remarkable campaign, finishing with a .924 save percentage (fifth in the NHL), 2.36 goals-against average (fourth), a league-high 44 victories and six shutouts.
Lowry, 25, completed a two-year deal at US$1.125 million per season. He had eight goals and 13 assists in 45 games.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters in late May he fully expected some players to exercise their arbitration rights.
“Don’t write articles that the sky is falling if we have five or six guys filing for arbitration. We’ve been through that process. It’s about getting contracts in place,” he said.
Tanev made $700,000 last season, when he netted eight goals and 18 points in 61 games, while adding four goals and six points in the post-season.
Dano completed a one-year contract worth $850,000. He scored two goals and one assist in 23 games.
The only other eligible RFA to file Thursday was defenceman Tucker Poolman, but he did not. Morrissey, forward Nic Petan and goalie Eric Comrie are looking for new contracts but aren’t eligible to file for arbitration.
Manitoba Moose regular JC Lipon and Nicolas Kerdiles, picked up last week in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks for Chase De Leo, were also eligible for arbitration but didn’t file.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).