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A big salary bump is coming for standout restricted free-agent Jacob Trouba but the size and length of any such deal remained in question as the star defenceman and the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets headed to an arbitration hearing in Toronto Friday morning.
Earlier reports had the Jets making a US$4 million arbitration bid while Trouba and his agent Kurt Overhardt countered with US$7 million.
League rules allow the team and player to continue to negotiate for up to 48 hours after the hearing; a quick decision from the arbitrator would, however, kill that option.
The 24-year-old from Rochester, Mich., recently completed a two-year bridge contract that carried an annual cap hit of US$3 million.
That deal was signed after Trouba demanded a trade, sat out training camp and skipped the first 13 regular-season games in 2016-17.
Winnipeg’s ninth-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, has scored 34 goals and 129 points in 326 career games.
He played 55 games, scoring three goals and 24 points during the past season, which was interrupted by a concussion and an ankle injury. He also notched a pair of goals and three points in 17 post-season games.
Dustin Byfuglien (US$7.6 million for the next three seasons), Tyler Myers (US$5.5 million in the final season of a seven-year deal) and Dmitry Kulikov (US$4.33 million for the next two years) all made more money than Trouba on the Jets blue line last season.
Unrestricted free agent Toby Enstrom (US$5.75 million in 2017-18) is not expected to re-sign with the team.
Trouba sounded keen to sign a long-term extension following Winnipeg’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in May’s Western Conference final.
“Been down that road once,” he told reporters at the time. “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.”
The Jets came to terms Thursday with centre Adam Lowry on a three-year, US$8.75-million deal. Last week, the Jets locked up restricted free-agent goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for six years with a contract worth US$37 million.
In addition to Trouba, Winnipeg has four other unsigned restricted free agents: Josh Morrissey, Tucker Poolman and forwards Brandon Tanev and Marko Dano. Tanev and Dano have arbitration hearings scheduled.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.