With December just around the corner, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until the NHL announces a timeline for when the 2020-21 campaign is expected to begin, meaning the Winnipeg Jets will likely be forced to make a difficult decision with their final remaining restricted free agent in the near future.
Though the front office has already conducted plenty of work this off-season, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff still need to make at least one more move before next season opens, as forward Jack Roslovic still remains without a contract. Since the 23-year old wasn’t eligible to file for arbitration in October, he’s been forced to wait out this entire process for nearly two months, which has likely led to a ton of frustration for the youngster.
While the Jets have reportedly been floating his name around in trade discussions recently, according to the Winnipeg Sun, nothing has materialized on that front just yet, as Roslovic is still a member of this organization. So unless something changes in the next few weeks, it appears Cheveldayoff probably won’t be able to swap the former first-round pick for something more desirable in return and will need to find some common ground with him during contract negotiations.
Though Winnipeg doesn’t currently have any cap space to speak of since they’re approximately $700K over the salary cap, according to CapFriendly.com, they’ll be able to free up close to $5.3 million once they place veteran Bryan Little’s salary on the long-term injured reserve. But since the club is also looking to shore up their blueline, they probably want to preserve most of that space for a top-four defenseman, which is likely a major reason as to why the 6-foot-1 center remains unsigned.
Considering Roslovic earned just under $900K in each of the last three seasons, there’s a very good chance he’s looking to earn somewhere around $1.5 million per season on a short-term bridge deal. Based on his encouraging results from last season, there’s no question the Miami standout deserves to be rewarded with a raise for his ability to take a positive step forward during his second full season in the NHL.
Through 71 games, the right-hander averaged a career-high 14:54 minutes of ice time, producing 12 goals, 29 points, 0.17 goals per game, 0.41 points per game, 117 shots on net, 58 hits, 24 takeaways, 21 blocks, along with a 47.3% faceoff percentage.
Making an impact during the Jets’ short playoff run, the former top prospect added a pair of assists, 10 shots on net, two hits, two takeaways, one block, 60.0% faceoff percentage, and averaged 16:41 minutes of ice time over four postseason contests.
Despite producing career-highs in goals, points, shots, and hits during the regular season, saving every dollar means so much more this off-season and Roslovic is currently learning that the hard way. With the organization looking to pinch pennies on his new contract, it seems he could be forced to settle on a figure that’s below his current value, which is understandably difficult to come to terms with.
So what’s the solution here? Well, it seems a two-year bridge deal worth approximately $2 million would make the most sense for both sides, as Roslovic would earn a slight pay increase over the next two seasons and that figure would also allow management to maintain close to $4.3 million in potential cap space.
While it seems like both sides will eventually head in this direction, it could take them a while to actually finalize an agreement, especially if the Ohio native refuses to report to training camp without a new contract. At that point, No. 28 would need to agree to a deal before the first third of the regular season is completed or he’d be forced to sit out the remainder of the campaign.
If Roslovic returns to the Jets next season, he’s expected to be featured as a bottom-six forward and it’s possible he could skate alongside teammates Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp on the team’s third line. Entering his third full season in the league, it’ll be crucial for the young center to take another positive step forward in 2021 or he might be suiting up for another team in the near future.