USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program has found recent success grooming young defensemen to be National Hockey League-ready shortly after their draft date.
Justin Faulk is a good testament to that.
Jacob Trouba wants to be the next.
Committed to the University of Michigan for the 2012-13 season, Trouba is a product of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League.
“He falls right into that group, and that program has done a great job of training defensemen and forwards but more defensemen in the past few years,” said Tony MacDonald, the head of amateur scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes. “That’s the case this year. They’ve got two or three solid kids back there on the blue line.”
Trouba’s two-way defensive game is highly regarded among scouts, and the NHL’s Central Scouting Service ranked the 6-foot-2, 193-pound blueliner ninth among North American skaters. Many speak in favor of his physical game, noting that his athleticism, size and skating ability (exceptional considering his size) make him a rugged force to contain not only in the defensive zone, but all over the ice. He can also easily separate an attacking player from the puck, especially along the boards.
|HOMETOWN: ROCHESTER, MI |
|HEIGHT: 6-2 |
|WEIGHT: 193 |
|BIRTHDAY: FEB. 26, 1994 (AGE 18) |
“He’s a big guy. He skates real well, and he has cannon for a shot,” MacDonald said. “He competes hard and competes with an edge.”
That hard-nosed edge helped Trouba be an anchor on the United States’ blueline in both the Under-18 World Junior Championship and the World Juniors. Trouba and Team USA captured their second straight gold medal in the Under-18 tournament with a commanding 7-0 win over Sweden. The Rochester, Michigan native recorded a goal, 3 points and a plus-five rating in six games. Just a few months earlier, Trouba was the youngest player named to Team USA’s 2012 World Junior squad. He notched just 2 assists in the tournament, but was noted as one of the team's best players.
In turn, being pitted against older, stronger opponents helped Trouba polish his defensive game. He isn’t a flashy defender, but it’s hard not to notice his reliable play in his own zone. This is part of what makes him a projected top-two defenseman and such an attractive top-10 option on draft day.
As if the Hurricanes would need another reason to take a good look at Trouba, here’s one: familiarity. He already has somewhat of a tie to the organization, as he grew up playing youth hockey in the Compuware program in Michigan. Playing locally, he idolized the recently-retired Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Now 18 years old, Trouba first skated when he was four. He hated the experience, but his dad was persistent and kept him on skates. Safe to say it paid off. Tomorrow, he will fulfill a dream and have his name called in the first round.