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Photo Credit: WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jets Must Resist Temptation With Jack Roslovic

With Jack Roslovic tearing the AHL apart and sitting second in league scoring, it must surely be tempting for the Jets to recall him at the earliest possible opportunity. The Jets, however, are a patient team with their prospects.

That patience will have to carry over to Roslovic, who is lighting up the AHL and making his case for a recall stronger every day. Right now, what the Jets need to ask themselves is: does bringing Roslovic up to the NHL do him more harm than good?

Right now, his time with the Manitoba Moose appears to be doing Roslovic a world of good. Yet with the success of Kyle Connor and with Roslovic’s own potential, the Jets may be thinking of injecting some more youth into the lineup.

While I have no doubt Roslovic would be an improvement over several forwards the Jets have right now, there are a few caveats here. One, Roslovic is still at the point where time in the AHL isn’t hurting him. There’s no need to rush him.

Two, Roslovic is playing top-line minutes and all situations with the Moose right now. He’s on the power play, penalty kill, and getting plenty of looks at even strength. Would he get those same opportunities on the Jets right now? One doubts it.

Connor, Roslovic’s old running mate with the Moose, has thrived since coming to the Jets, but that’s because the Jets have put him in a position to thrive. The lowest he’s been on the depth chart since joining the Jets has been the second line, and he’s spent most of his time with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, a line he has seemingly completed.

Roslovic shouldn’t be recalled until the Jets can give him a similar opportunity rather than playing him on the fourth line. Granted, the Jets fourth line at the moment looks pretty impressive, but you’d like to see Roslovic get a real chance given his play in the AHL.

Connor has had top-line minutes, power play time, and is getting increased responsibility throughout the game. He’s earned all of it of course, but until Roslovic can get something similar, there’s no need to bring him up.

Roslovic Elevates the Moose

It’s no coincidence that with Roslovic playing his best hockey as a pro, the Manitoba Moose are the best they’ve been since their return to Winnipeg. They sit first in the AHL’s Central Division and, much like their parent club, are rolling right along.

So another question worth asking: is it worth stripping your farm club of their leading scorer and driving force so he can play bottom-six minutes or sit in the press box in the NHL?

I fully recognize that the farm club exists for the benefit of the parent club and not the other way around, but given how many young players the Jets are developing down in the AHL, and given how many of them are having great seasons (Mason Appleton and Sami Niku spring to mind) isn’t it better to have them winning together?

Because Roslovic’s play in Manitoba hasn’t just been good for him. There are plenty of causes for the Moose’s turnaround this season (I could devote an entirely separate article to those) but Roslovic’s play has been a huge part of it.

Look at the Moose’s stats right now and you’ll notice something. The veterans the Moose added in the offseason are doing a great job, but so are youngsters like Niku, Appleton, and Brendan Lemieux. Driving it all is Roslovic, who leads the team in scoring by a wide margin and helps take the heat off the other players.

I admit the prospect of a fourth line of Roslovic, Mathieu Perreault, and Joel Armia is a tantalizing one. It would be more of a third line, really, and exactly the kind of bottom-six scoring line Jets fans wanted to see at the start of the year. It’s not quite time for that, however.

Let Roslovic mature just a little bit more with the Manitoba Moose. You won’t have to be patient for too much longer, Jets fans, but that little bit of extra patience will pay off.

For now, just enjoy watching Roslovic’s development curve, and hope that when the Jets do call him up (because it’s coming) that they put him in a position to succeed as they did with Connor.

Oh, and that Evander Kane trade looks pretty good right about now, doesn’t it?

  • RKehler

    I don’t think that they would bring him up until there is an injury or they trade some players that don’t need to clear waivers. At the very least I think that they will clear out Matthias and probably Dano at or before the end of the season but I don’t know how much they could get for them given their performance at the beginning of the season. They will probably want to keep Lemieux as well (thanks Buffalo). I don’t know what they will do with Petan. I don’t see where he fits in. Given the log jam of forward talent and their record of draft success, I would be happy with a few draft pick upgrades in trade 4th round to 2nd, 2nd to 1st for example. Just to keep the cupboard stocked long term.

  • Travis

    “Roslovic is still at the point where time in the AHL isn’t hurting him.”

    I’m not so sure about that one. He’s getting to the point where he’s no longer being adequately challenged in the AHL. Challenge is what spurs growth, and if he’s ready for an NHL-level challenge, then that is where he should be. There is also the risk of ‘over-training’ him to the AHL style and level of play. Becoming too accustomed to facing AHL-caliber players, means he might find it more difficult to transition to the big club.

    To be sure, I would not recommend bringing him up until we can find him a spot where he can grow and thrive. If he can’t get at least third-line minutes, he should stay with the Moose. Given the amount of talent, skill and competition for positions the Jets currently have, that may not happen without some injuries up front.

  • Roslovic should stay with the Moose unless he is called up and allowed to play with Laine and Ehlers. They would be an unreal line. That would give the Jets an option to put Little, Perreault and Armia on what would be a great 3rd line and a good 4th line of Lowry, Copp and Tanev, until Lemieux replaces Tanev. Keep Hendricks around as a player/coach. It won’t happen as the Jets are fantastically patient with their draft and develop philosophy and Maurice really doesn’t have faith in young players. The future looks bright for the Jets. Now if they could only have their defense take ownership of their blue line which could cut down the time playing in their own zone and reduce the shots on goal the team would be unbeatable.

    • RKehler

      No doubt they could score but I would be leary about how many they would give up. I think that they would put him on a line with some vets until they know that his defensive play solid enough. Ehler’s has improved a lot but Laine has a ways to go so I think that keep him with Little. They might start him on the wing with Lowry and Perault. I’m sure that he and Perault could make something happen. For everyone that has wanting a 9/3 split instead of 6/6, I think we will finally have the pieces to do it.

    • Paul from NZ

      I remember on Arctic Ice Hockey 2 years ago someone posted a futures line up with Roslovic as the number 2 centre and Little as number 3, I replied that, as Roslovic hadnt played a pro game at that stage and Little was still a quality top line NHL centre, it was a HUGE stretch to assume Roslovic would pass Little on the depth chart so quick.

      All of a sudden it doesn’t seem so crazy.

      I agree that would be a great top 3 lines

  • Paul from NZ

    As others have said, likely that he only gets a call up once an injury strikes one of the centres in the line up, and it would likely have to be Little or Sheifele.

    Strikes me that we do have an overabundance of centre depth all of sudden, with Sheifele, Little, Roslovic, Copp, Lowry, Hendricks, Lemieux and Petan. Even a few play on the wings, that is a bit of a logjam.

    Would be good to see some of these players traded for defensive prospects (we dont have any room on blue line for NHL defencemen either….). Would like to keep Roslovic, but does that mean we could afford to trade Lowry?

    • Eddie O rules!

      I’d say we do and we don’t. We have one first line quality center, one second line quality center who’s been fading, a couple of border line 3rd line quality centers and a couple of guys in Petan and Roslovic that probably could be up there pretty soon, but not this year. Roslovic has been real good, but I think he needs another year just to get stronger before you could really expect him to take over second line duties. In a lot of ways I think Petan would be closer right at this exact moment to being able to center in the top 9. I don’t see it happening though. The only way either of them end up there is if there’s multiple injuries at the top of the line up.