Jacob Trouba, the young standout defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, has already enjoyed an international career so decorated that it rivals some of the most seasoned veterans of the National Hockey League.
His future is also now secure in Winnipeg.
Trouba requested a trade and sat out the first month of the season, but the restricted free agent signed a two-year contract with the Jets in the first week of November, securing his immediate future in Winnipeg and offering relief from a rocky start.
“I think the second I signed and got into the room I was more comfortable,” Trouba said. “It’s not fun not playing, but it is what it is. That’s how I decided to handle it, but I’m happy with where I’m at now.”
The Jets are happy too, particularly with the young defenseman’s potential.
The 23-year-old Trouba has already appeared in eight tournaments and has won three gold medals representing Team USA at the international level.
“I’ve been pretty lucky to play in a lot of tournaments and on a lot of pretty good teams overseas,” Trouba said. “It’s always something that’s special and something that gets harder to do the older you get, just to be on those teams. I’ve been pretty fortunate thus far and hopefully I can have a couple more opportunities to represent the U.S.”
Trouba (left) holding the World Junior Championship trophy after winning in 2013.
Trouba helped Team USA to back-to-back gold medals at the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in 2011 and 2012. He was the youngest player on the U.S. team when the Americans finished a disappointing seventh at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, but it paved the way for a bigger victory the following year.
Trouba was named the top defenseman of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship after scoring four goals and nine points in seven games. He played a significant role in helping Team USA clinch its third gold medal in program history.
“There are a lot of guys that look back on that tournament and they don’t win, and it’s something that kind of always bothers them, I think,” Trouba said. “To have won it is pretty special, especially during the lockout year when there weren’t really many players missing, I think it made it a little sweeter for all of us. It was just a big stage with more people watching.”
Trouba stood out on another big stage this past fall when he participated in the eight-team World Cup of Hockey. He was part of Team North America, a dynamic young group of top players from the U.S. and Canada, all aged 23 and under.
“Just being part of it was a really cool experience for me,” Trouba said. “No one really knew what to expect going into it with the World Cup, especially with our team. It was a pretty fun team and we had a lot of talent. I thought we had a pretty good showing and I think we were pretty proud of what we did there.”
Trouba, a native of Rochester, Michigan, was a standout with the Plymouth-based Compuware hockey program for eight years before spending two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program where he flourished.
“They treat you well and they give you all the tools you need to succeed, but you have to utilize them and put in the work,” said Trouba, who played his college hockey at the University of Michigan. “There were some tough days, that’s for sure, but you work pretty hard there. If you make the choice and work at it, they’ll do whatever they can to help you succeed."
Trouba said the schedule played a significant role in helping him succeed.
“It’s not as many games, but it was a grueling schedule where you might not be feeling well, but you have to go and do the same thing and keep working at it,” Trouba said. “I think that was probably the biggest thing.”
It led to Trouba’s extensive international experience with Team USA, which has been special throughout his career.
“At the time, I didn’t really think anything too much of it other than I was just playing with my buddies, but I didn’t have the full perspective,” Trouba said. “Looking back, especially my time with the [NTDP], I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The best part is seeing where guys are now and seeing that those 17-year-olds you were playing with are some pretty good players in the NHL. That’s probably the coolest part.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.