Defenseman Jacob Trouba has morphed into a different kind of player since he was traded from the Jets to the Rangers in June 2019.
After a rocky first season in New York — which ended on a high note during the Blueshirts’ lackluster performance in the bubble playoffs — Trouba has not only elevated his game but has stepped into a leadership role that everybody from management to his teammates has said has a major influence in the locker room.
Following the Rangers’ first of four straight wins against the Devils last week, head coach David Quinn revealed that, for the first time all season, he didn’t speak to the team during the second intermission. Instead, Trouba spoke up and got the team back in the right head space to finish out the game after an uninspired performance in the middle frame.
“Usually the older guys speak up in the intermission anyway,” Ryan Strome said after that game. “But I think just for him to take the reins a little bit and have the players control the dressing room for a period, you know, sometimes you can get caught up a little bit in the Xs and Os and I thought in the second period we were kind of just off our game.
“I think we all knew the magnitude of our game, the magnitude of our situation. We have to take it upon us as players, and I think he took the initiative first to do that.”
Trouba, whom the Rangers signed to a seven-year, $56 million contract, has recently been laying on the hits and making his presence known through physical play. But in the Rangers’ second consecutive shutout win over the Devils last Thursday, the 27-year-old scored the first goal of the game 47 seconds in off a lethal one-timer.
The scoresheet isn’t where you usually find Trouba’s contributions, but he was able to come through in the Rangers’ most important stretch of the season.
“As the year went on last year, he got more comfortable,” Quinn said Tuesday ahead of the Rangers’ matchup with the Islanders. “This year, it’s gone to another level. Whether you’re a young player or an older player, he’s continuing to do the things we need him to do from a leadership standpoint.”
Trouba is one of just two veteran defensemen within the Rangers’ D-corps, along with Brendan Smith. With 515 games of NHL experience under his belt, Trouba has embraced his role of ushering in the next generation of Rangers defensemen.
He has been partnered with rookie K’Andre Miller, who has often mentioned how helpful Trouba has been in offering advice and giving him confidence.
“It’s important,” Trouba said earlier this season. “I remember being young and when I came in, [Maple Leafs defenseman] Zach Bogosian helped me a lot.
“It’s hard. It’s a hard transition coming in as a young guy, and we have so many young guys. I mean, we all kind of have to grow together. I still consider myself not super old yet. But, yeah, just helping wherever I can. Just the amount of young talent we have, to try and keep everyone on the right path, I think, is important and playing the right way so we can be successful.”
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