GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jacob Trouba has enough to think about as he prepares to play his first regular season game for the Rangers when the Blueshirts open the season Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The fact that the game will be against his old team, the Winnipeg Jets, is something he probably would not have wished for.
“I don't really think of it much,’’ Trouba said this week, when asked about dealing with the emotions of playing against his old team, on top of the emotions of playing his first game as a Ranger. “I'm playing against some friends, which, I’ve played against friends in the past before.’’
There are no hard feelings for Trouba toward the Jets, who traded him to the Rangers in June in exchange for defenseman Neal Pionk and a first round pick that originally belonged to Winnipeg and had been traded to the Rangers in the Kevin Hayes deal. Trouba had requested a trade from the Jets to a U.S.-based team, because his fiancée is studying to be a doctor and would only be licensed to practice in the U.S., but not Canada.
Trouba, a rugged, 6-3, 209-pound, right-handed-shooting, two-way defenseman from Rochester, Michigan, said playing against his old teammates won’t be as weird. His way of thinking is that he’s battled all those guys one-on-one in practice many times. The one guy he admitted who will be weird to play against is center Andrew Copp. Copp is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and played with Trouba on the U.S. National Team Development Program and at the University of Michigan for a year, before playing with him in Winnipeg.
“I've never actually played against him and we played together forever — ever since we were 12 years old or something,’’ Trouba said. “We've always been on the same team. So that one will be more just like fun, finally playing against one of my best friends.’’
Trouba was asked if he’ll hit Copp Thursday night, should he get the chance.
“Yeah,’’ he said. “He’ll hit me, too.’’
Off the ice, Trouba is getting comfortable living in Manhattan for the first time. He got an apartment near Brady Skjei, his defense partner and friend from the USNTDP, and has leaned on Skjei to show him around, pointing out places to eat and things to do.
His fiancée is in medical school in Florida, though she was in New York over the weekend, and Trouba says his dog seems to enjoy walking around the city. Trouba himself is enjoying exploring the city, he said.
“It's been great,’’ he said. “It's still kind of new every day. I mean, you get off the subway and you're in a whole new world kind of thing.’’
Notes & quotes: C Boo Nieves cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Hartford… LW Micheal Haley, who attended training camp on a player tryout agreement (PTO), agreed to a two-way contract with the team. Per CapFriendly, the contract is worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $275,000 if he plays in the minor leagues.