— Jacob Trouba. Not really sure what else there is to say. For someone like myself, who has a decent understanding of the prospects at the college level but focuses more on the pro game, I come to a game like this with a few guys I’m keeping an eye while hoping that someone — anyone — jumps out at me.
If you read my preview, you saw I noted that Trouba was the biggest prospect of the bunch — nearly 20 NHL draft picks were in this game — and it didn’t take more than a few shifts to see that this kid has the skill set to be a very successful NHL player.
The ninth overall pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL Draft (behind Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Matthew Dumba and Derrick Pouliot), Trouba is just 18 years old and is listed at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds. While he often uses his size to his advantage and plays a very physical game — but does so in a smart fashion — he doesn’t skate like a big guy. Trouba uses a smooth stride and carries a lot of speed through the neutral zone, and also has good hockey sense.
On one play, Trouba breezed through the neutral zone with ease and fired a hard shot that got blocked and deflected behind the net. Instead of losing focus, he didn’t miss a beat and followed his shot. Trouba is a solid puck-moving defenseman and seemed adept at making the first pass.
I exchanged a few tweets last night with long-time NHL analyst Billy Jaffe, who was one of the broadcasters for the game, and he said that Trouba was probably two years away from being ready for the NHL, but only because of the natural maturation process…there’s no sense in rushing him, he is only 18. Of course, it would be nice to at least have the opportunity to see if he could handle the game’s top level — I think he could but don’t disagree with Jaffe’s point — but that’s a different story.
Trouba was the star of the show in my mind, even despite his Wolverines losing to Cornell, 5-1.
Cornell had a few standouts, but nobody at Trouba’s level…I thought Brian Ferlin had some nice moments for the Big Red. A fourth round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2011, Ferlin showed some good offensive upside but still looked a little raw at times.
I was also interested in seeing Andy Iles last night, and while he didn’t disappoint, he didn’t get tested too particularly often so it was hard to get a real feel for his game. He made the saves he needed to make and showed me somewhat of a Tim Thomas-like mentality in that he’s very aggressive and never gives up on the play. His head first dive to break up a play about 40 feet from his net was certainly one of the highlights of the night.
In the other net, I was pretty disappointed in Steve Racine. Racine’s puckhandling skills were particularly poor, and while he didn’t have a chance on a few of Cornell’s goals, he let in a pretty inexcusable five hole tally that never left the ice.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com