If you asked us to describe Blue Jacket center Jack Roslovic in one word, I think that word would be “enigmatic”. There are times when he can wow us with his skill and seemingly score at ease … but then there are the other times when Jack wows us, and not in a good way. Is he a major piece of this team’s future, or will they look elsewhere for his role?
C Jack Roslovic
6’1″, 200 pounds
2022-23 stats: 77GP, 11G, 33A, 44Pts, -14, 10PIMs
Acquired: Traded from Winnipeg, January 23, 2021
(Originally selected 1st round, #25 overall by Winnipeg, 2015 NHL Draft)
Contract: Signed through 2023-24 ($4.0M AAV)
Role: middle six center
Jack will be entering his third full season with the Jackets, after being acquired as part of the famed Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine deal. He’s stayed mostly healthy and played in 206 games since being traded here in the COVID-shortened 2021 season; scoring 45 goals and 78 assists for 123 points in that time. For the most part, he’s been a productive member of the middle-six for the Blue Jackets; giving the team much-needed minutes at center. So, how is it possible that most of the fanbase looks at Jack as an easily replaceable piece?
In short, this is a guy who oozes skill with the puck; he can dangle, make a nifty pass, and has a quick, deceptive release that can surprise NHL goaltenders. The problem with all of this is, he hasn’t yet put it together consistently enough to make up for his glaring mistakes on the defensive side of the puck, which are too frequent in his game. Couple that with the fact that he’s no longer a budding recent first round pick (he’s 26 years old) – and it’s easy to see Jack as nothing more than what he’s shown: a half point-per-game, middle of the lineup center, who leaves a lot to be desired in the detail side of the game.
That isn’t to say that he’s a bad player, or a guy we wouldn’t want on our team. In fact, I think Jack is a great guy to have around when you can shelter his minutes and give him offensive zone starts, sorta like Sam Gagner when he was here. Keeping the game simple is key, and preferably playing him against second or even third tier competition, could make a lot of difference in his productivity. But the Jackets don’t have the luxury of surrounding him with veteran two-way players, and I don’t see that changing this season. And, this is a player who is probably looking to cash in with one big contract here, which probably doesn’t fit into this team’s long-term plans.
Three keys to success:
- Earn trust. New head coach Mike Babcock will bring a fresh look to the team, which may benefit Roslovic more than any other returning player on the roster. Babcock will get him to the right areas on the ice, but then it’s up to Jack to convert. He has the skill to do it.
- Limit turnovers. Jack has a tendency to try to do too much with the puck, which leads to the occasional (sometimes frequent) ugly turnover. Even if he gets to the right areas, turning the puck over will void key #1 here in a hurry.
- Just be Jack. Look, all things aside, Jack finished fourth on the team in scoring last season – just one point behind Boone Jenner. If he finishes in the top-six again this year, I have a feeling his point total will be over 60. This lineup should be really productive, and both sides will benefit if he’s a big part of it.
Ultimately, I think Roslovic is a potential deadline trade chip for this team this season. Their competitive window being a couple years away, probably spells the impending end in Columbus for the Central Ohio native; so unless he’s proven himself an invaluable piece and the team is in playoff contention, I feel like separation is inevitable. The Jackets will use his skill and experience to buy time this season, but will be looking to take a step forward with their center prospects soon, rather than later.