GREENBURGH, N.Y. — On his first day of practice as a Ranger on Saturday, Jacob Trouba introduced himself to a couple of his new teammates on the ice. First, he said hello to Filip Chytil, by dropping him to the ice in a 3-on-3, cross-ice scrimmage. Later, in another drill, he greeted Kaapo Kakko, ushering him heavily into the side boards.
“He comes as advertised,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said of Trouba Sunday. “He can shoot it; he can pass it; he’s got a mean streak to him, and there’s really no nonsense to his game. It’s no mystery why he’s had success in this league.’’
“I had a long summer and you just don’t do that kind of stuff over the summer,’’ Trouba said Sunday of his early physical play. “I don’t want to wait till the last week (of training camp) to try to find that part of my game. I want to do it now, and have it. Is that something I’m going to do every day, run around? No. I mean, it comes when it comes. But I kind of like to play hockey in, I guess, a hard fashion.’’
At the end of last season, when the Rangers finished 20 points out of a playoff spot, Quinn said the biggest thing the team needed to improve was its defensive play. The defense improved immensely when general manager Jeff Gorton traded for Trouba in June, sending defenseman Neal Pionk to Winnipeg in exchange, and returning to the Jets the first-round pick Winnipeg had sent to Broadway in February in the Kevin Hayes deal. The Rangers then signed Trouba, a restricted free agent, to a seven-year, $56 million contract.
“What he’s going to do for us — I think all of our ‘D’ corps in general, is going to feel a little bit better about themselves, because now people are going to be put in position to have success,’’ Quinn said of Trouba’s effect on the team. “Whereas, maybe last year we were asking (some defensive) guys to do a little bit too much, now, I think what Trouba gives us is an opportunity to put people in position to succeed. It’s amazing what one guy can do for that position.’’
Trouba, 25, a 6-3, 202-pound, righthanded-shooting defenseman from Rochester, Michigan, scored eight goals, with 42 assists in 82 games for the Jets last season. But he doesn’t consider himself an “offensive’’ defenseman.
“I wouldn’t label myself as an offensive guy,’’ he said. “I play what I think is the right way to play defense; the proper way. I don’t try to sacrifice any defense for some offense. I’m a defenseman first. I take a lot of pride in my own zone and being hard to play against. And the offensive side, when you get into a play, that just comes along naturally.”
Notes & quotes: Rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin got run over on consecutive plays in a full ice, 1-on-1 drill in the middle practice session, first by Connor Brickley, and then by Brendan Lemieux. Shesterkin seemed to take an extra moment to gather himself after the second wipeout, but finished the session. “I like the fact that they’re going to the net,’’ Quinn said when asked about it … Brickley, 27, is in camp on a professional tryout (PTO) after finishing last season with the Rangers following a midseason minor league trade in which he came over to Hartford from Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. He was called up from Hartford Feb. 15 and played 14 games for the Rangers, scoring one goal with three assists … The players will be split into two groups Monday, with one group practicing in the morning and the other group scrimmaging in the afternoon.