Jacob Trouba knew what was coming.
“Do you want me to just answer the question now?” Trouba asked as he stood before the media a day after the Winnipeg Jets’ season ended.
The question that none of the media could even ask before Trouba starting speaking, pertained to his long-term future in Winnipeg.
The 23-year-old defenceman went through a contentious contract negotiation in the fall and missed the first 21 games of the season.
Upon returning, he had a breakout season and became the Jets most reliable blue-liner.
So, of course, the big question was: does he want to stay in Winnipeg?
“I’ve got no problem with Winnipeg and I think I’ve made that pretty clear,” Trouba said. “The contract is a two-way street and both sides have to come to together and agree on something. It’s not completely me, it’s not completely them. It’s a mutual thing.
“That’s something I’ll talk with (agent Kurt Overhardt) about. I enjoyed playing for that team and the teammates that we have in that room. I think we all gelled pretty well together and you can ask pretty much anyone … I think everyone feels this team can go somewhere. This was my dream to play here (in the NHL) and I’m living it and I couldn’t be happier.”
Trouba was also asked if he will consider signing a longterm contract extension in the off-season. He’s currently on a two-year bridge deal that will expire at the end of the 2017-18 season.
“That’s something I’ll talk with Kurt about, with management, but I still have another year and I’m back in the same RFA spot,” Trouba said. “It’s not a super pressing issue, I don’t think. I’ve just got to play out next year and see where it goes.”
Many of the Jets players spoke with the media after their exit meetings with the team Sunday. The Jets won their final seven games of the season but still missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years with a 40-35-7 record.
Many of the themes were positive but there are obviously players with uncertain futures, especially with the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights coming up in June.
“I asked them,” Jets forward Mathieu Perreault said. “They gave me the answer I wanted to hear. They said they’ll try to do everything they can to protect me. But nothing is certain so I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
Perreault, like many of the Jets, had his struggles this season, but they really put things together down the stretch when it was, unfortunately, too little, too late.
“If you would have asked me (about the expansion draft) two months ago I probably would have had a different answer,” Perreault said. “I feel like I probably wouldn’t have been protected really, given the (four-year) contract and how I was producing. That’s just how this game goes. I hope they protect me but it’s really out of my control. All I could do is play my best and hope they protect me and I feel like I’ve done that so it’s in their hands really. At least I gave myself a chance to stay here.”
Perreault gave an honest assessment of what went wrong with the Jets this season, touching on their overall defensive play and their special teams.
He also said what many people have been thinking — that the Jets need better goaltending.
“If we get some saves too,” Perreault said. “That was a bit of a struggle for us. There’s no team making the playoffs that isn’t getting saves so we are going to definitely need some saves.”