The Winnipeg Jets made the right move recalling Jack Roslovic from the AHL on Dec. 30. Now they need to make the right moves in his usage.
There’s no doubt Roslovic deserves the recall. He’s been one of the AHL’s brightest young stars, leading the Manitoba Moose in scoring and sitting third in the league with 35 points despite playing three fewer games than the two players ahead of him.
Roslovic was always a prime candidate for a call-up on a team full to bursting with potential options. With the injury bug now biting the Jets as hard as it has all year, he was certainly on the team’s radar.
Fans applauded Roslovic’s recall, but their enthusiasm was mixed with some worry. How would Paul Maurice and company use the Jets’ latest budding star?
— Marc Silva (@msilvawpg) December 30, 2017
It’s a hard worry to shake for Jets fans, who’ve had plenty to worry about with lineup decisions over the years. Whether you think the fretting is worthwhile or not, there’s no denying the Jets have to be careful how they manage Roslovic.
After all, as Mr. Silva points out above, there’s little sense in playing Roslovic with fourth-liners and then lamenting his lack of production. It wasn’t a huge deal in his first NHL game, played in a season that was long since over and in front of his friends and family. It will matter more now in a crucial year.
Rosolovic Can’t Occupy the Press Box
It would be beyond frustrating to see Roslovic in a suit on game days, but since the Jets have already done this with Nic Petan and Marko Dano for long stretches, it’s not impossible. Fans worry Roslovic may not be given the chance to succeed.
For Roslovic, sitting in the press box would make no sense whatsoever. He’s at an age where he’s still getting something out of his AHL time. Sitting would do him more harm than just staying with the Manitoba Moose.
Curious to see if Roslovic goes right into lineup, or if Dano gets the first shot tomorrow. I wouldn’t think Roslovic would get the call if plan was to park him in press box as extra forward, but we’ll see.
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) December 30, 2017
This would not be news to Maurice, so expect to see Roslovic playing sooner than later. The issue is, where does he put Roslovic? It makes little sense to sit him, and almost as little sense to play him in a position where he can’t succeed.
Maurice has sent players down in the past when their ice time has dried up and they’d benefit from playing more. This has happened with both Kyle Connor and Petan in recent months. So he knows young players need to be playing.
Playing him with fourth-liners for six minutes a night, however, is not going to get him up to the level he needs to be. The Jets gave Connor a chance to succeed in the top six and it worked wonders. One hopes they’ll apply that lesson to Roslovic.
Given their chemistry with the Moose, putting Connor and Roslovic together might work quite well. Maurice may be reluctant to put two rookies on the same line, but as far as chemistry goes, that could be a great duo that allows him to continue to roll his other lines as he has been.
Roslovic in the Present and Future
The Jets are in a tough spot with Roslovic. They’ve called him up because right now he is the best player on their farm team without question. They need to play him with an eye to his future, however.
That’s not going to be easy. The Jets have been planning for a future that never seemed to come for as long as they’ve been the Jets. Now that future has finally arrived, and they need to seize it.
They can’t forget, however, that Roslovic’s future is still up in the air. As good of a player as he is and as impressive as he’s been, his development still needs to be handled properly.
Roslovic is going to make mistakes. He’s 20 years old and playing in the NHL as a regular (hopefully) for the first time. Slip-ups are going to happen as they have with every rookie in history. When they do, the Jets must be patient.
With a return to the playoffs on the line and the jobs of the staff hanging in the balance, it may be tempting to bench or demote Roslovic if he has a bad game. The Jets need to resist that temptation as much as possible. He needs to play, and he needs to play with people who bring out the best in him.
The nice thing about Roslovic, however, is that he’s a smart, adaptable player. He’ll make his linemates better, whoever they are, and his consistent, heady game lends itself to a smoother transition to the NHL. He’s not all flash and dash.
In that way, the Jets have a bit of a freebie here. A talented, smart young player whose development will be tough for them to damage. They need to make sure they make the right moves with him. If they do, they could have another up-and-coming star on their hands.