When the Rangers acquired Jacob Trouba over the summer, the thought was that he would become the top pair defenseman the Rangers had been searching for since trading Ryan McDonagh. He brought a bit of offense, an edge to defense and could play against the top lines of the other teams.
At 25 years old, that’s a pretty big package of skills / expectations, particularly in New York where defensemen have a long history of being targets of the fan’s ire when things don’t go well. It’s nothing new by any stretch, even Bob Nevin who played during the 60s, faced the same sort of singling out as the likes of Tom Poti, Kevin Hatcher and Michal Rozsival have in more recent times.
His initial foray as a Ranger started promising, with 1 goal and 5 assists in his first six games, In the following ten games, he recorded a solitary assist, that being a secondary helper on Greg McKegg‘s shorthanded goal against the Detroit Red Wings to make it 4-1 on the way to a 5-1 win.
After 16 games, he still leads the team with 23:17 of average ice time a game, almost three and half minutes more than Brady Skjei, who ranks second amongst defenseman. He also ranks 4th powerplay ice time – first amongst defenseman, and first in shorthanded overall ice time.
But it’s primarily his offensive stats that suggest he isn’t bringing as much as perhaps was expected. His power play time in particular has eroded in the last couple of weeks, with assignment to the second unit following stints first by Tony DeAngelo and more recently Adam Fox.
His Corsi For % at even sttength, a measurement of shots taken, whether they be on goal, blocked or misses, shows a differential of 194 for versus 302 against, with only five players on the team showing a worse ratio – Kaapo Kakko, Brett Howden, Lias Andersson, Libor Hajek – his defensive partner, and Marc Staal.
Part of this can be explained away by the more defensive role that head coach David Quinn is using him in, with only 39.5% of his zone starts occurring in the offensive zone, and yet he still leads the team in shots and shot attempts.
You can also argue that the Rangers overall have been a bit of a mess defensively, though the same cannot necessarily be said about the offfense. After all they rank a surprising 8th overall in goals per game, and similarly have the 8th best ranked PP in the league.
Trouba is just not benefitting from that, and it may be that his offensive potential is lower than some expected and what we really have is a steady defender who shoots alot. Time will tell as to whether this is just a settling in period, or whether this is the more typical player the team has actually signed to a 7 year, $56M contract.