The Winnipeg Jets inked 2015 first round pick Jack Roslovic to a three year entry level contract on Monday. Roslovic played his past season for the Miami-Ohio Redhawks and with him signed to an entry level contract, his NCCA eligibility is gone and now it’s up in the air where he suits up next fall. Roslovic has three possible places he could be assigned. He could be sent to the OHL and play for the London Knights, the team that holds his junior rights. He could be assigned to the Manitoba Moose to start his pro career in the AHL or he could even make the jump straight to the NHL and suit up for the Winnipeg Jets right out of the gate.
Which is likely the best fit for Roslovic and the most realistic assignment for him?
( Note: This is all pure speculation. We have to see the way Roslovic preforms at training camp, until then, this is all a guessing game, but why not talk about it? )
Lets examine all the possibilities.
The logic behind Roslovic heading to play junior hockey would be that the Jets concluded he isn’t ready for the pro game. If this does occur, you could argue there is no better place for Roslovic to play than the London Knights. The Knights are a strong candidate to return to the Memorial Cup for a second straight season and if Roslovic were to join London, their chances of returning to the tournament would surely increase. Roslovic would join a professionally run junior franchise that’s produced a ton of NHL talent and the OHL’s reigning champions.
Roslovic has the potential to be an elite player in the OHL after making his mark in the NCAA. Roslovic scored 26 points in 36 games in his freshman season at Miami-Ohio and while those numbers may not jump off the page, it should be acknowledged Roslovic was sometimes undeservingly sent off of top line minutes despite leading the teams leading scorer at the time. If Roslovic were to end up in the OHL he’d be all over the box score night in and night out. Roslovic would certainly light the lamp plenty of times if he makes his way to junior hockey, but would it be the right move for his development?
Sure he could lead the team in points and maybe even play alongside his former US National Development team linemate Matthew Thachcuk, but would he be gaining anything?
One would think that Roslovic would only sign in the hopes of turning pro, but I’ve got no information to back that up and that could be totally out of left field, but thats my two cents as to why he could have signed.
The one reason the team could lean toward returning Roslovic to junior is getting him to adjust to the pro game a little more by playing double the amount of games he did in college in junior instead of doubling his schedule and jumping a level up.
He would also be all-but-guaranteed top minutes as a first line centre.
I think this is the best and most realistic move that’s decided upon. The Moose could be a real solid team next year when they receive reinforcements from the casualties of Jets training camp. Roslovic is ready to take the jump and a year or two of seasoning in the AHL is what’s best for his game right now.
Transitioning from the NCAA to AHL is still a big leap for a player, but not one even close to the large gap that is between pro hockey and the juniors. NCAA hockey is against much older and more physically mature players than the players of junior hockey. It’s time to give Roslovic a bigger challenge and go a step up, not go dominate juniors and take a step down, what good would that do for him?
Roslovic could be an integral piece to a huge improvement with this Manitoba Moose team and him being a part of it would be a step forward in his development.
I’m not ruling out the possibility of Roslovic playing really well in the AHL and getting a look in the big leagues, but I will say that I think it’d be unlikely to see him start the year out with the Jets. The teams depth chart is pretty set and the competition for the spots that remain are pretty stiff. I can’t see the Jets considering this possibility even if he has a strong showing, Winnipeg is known to take their time with the development of their young players.
The days of the Atlanta Thrashers rushing high profile prospects in to the big leagues are done, the Jets aren’t going to make that mistake again especially with someone like Roslovic.
Roslovic needs at least full year with the Moose or Knights before he’s even considered to make a leap with the team. Obviously the Jets are only down the hallway from the Moose and they’ll have a close eye on Roslovic, but don’t expect to see Roslovic make the Jets opening night roster out of camp.