The Winnipeg Jets have officially put a bow on the trade that sent long time Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers.
According to an official announcement from the Jets organization, the team has signed 23 year old defenseman Neal Pionk to a short term contract. The Jets have announced that this will be a 2 year deal, one that will pay Pionk an average annual value of $3 million per season, a move of course that comes as a direct result of that aforementioned trade involving Trouba.
The Jets acquired the 20th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry draft and Pionk in exchange for sending Trouba to New York, Trouba would of course go on to sign a 7 year max term contract with the New York Rangers at a cap hit of $8 million per season over the length of that deal. Clearly the Jets were never willing to commit that kind of term and money to Trouba and they get a discounted option on the blue line in Pionk both in terms of the length and the money on his contract. The Jets of course went on to use that pick to select Ville Heinola, another defenseman, in the first round of the draft.
Pionk was something of a late bloomer going undrafted in the dradt and eventually working his way into the NHL by way of the NCAA and the American Hockey League. After a 48 game stint with the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL Pionk would go on to play the first 28 games of his NHL career during the 2017 - 2018 NHL regular season as a member of the Rangers. He took a greater role in the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season when he appeared in 73 games for the Rangers, recording 6 goals and 20 assists for a total of 26 points and a plus minus rating of -16 on the season.
There is no debating the fact that Pionk represents a significant downgrade from Trouba on the blue line, but the Jets will be banking on him and later on Heinola to help fill the considerable gap that will be left by Trouba's absence.