#AHLOTB: Roslovic’s development takes center-stage

Photo: JustSports Photography, Jonathan Kozub, Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

by Daniel Fink | AHL On The Beat

You could say Jack Roslovic had himself a pretty good January. The first year pro led off the month with a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto. He closed it out with an appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic. Those events bookended a month in which the Columbus, Ohio-native had points in six of his nine AHL games. So, yes, you could say Jack Roslovic had a good January, but you’d also probably be understating it a bit.

As impressive as Roslovic’s month was, you would be hard pressed to find someone within the Manitoba Moose organization who is surprised by the rookie’s success. After all, this is a player who has led the Moose in scoring pretty much from wire to wire this season. Not to mention doing so as the youngest player on the squad. The freshly turned 20-year old celebrated his birthday at the AHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 29. As with any success story, there’s a journey leading up to that point. Though Roslovic is still early on his path, there are plenty of high points already behind him.

While Roslovic has always been a member of the Jets organization, the pick used to select him, was not. Winnipeg acquired the 25th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft from the Buffalo Sabres as part of the deal bringing fellow Moose forward Brendan Lemieux along with current Jets Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and Joel Armia into the fold. Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and prospect goalie Jason Kasdorf went the other way in the deal. In his draft year, Roslovic suited up for the US National Development team, posting 38 points (11G, 27A) in 25 USHL games. He appeared in the IIHF World U18 Championship, picking up 11 points (6G, 5A) as Team USA came away with a gold medal.

Following his selection by the Jets, Roslovic joined on Miami (Ohio) University where he appeared in all 36 games for the Redhawks. Along the way the freshman tied for the team lead with 26 points (10G, 16A) and earned a NCHC All-Rookie Team nod while being named a finalist for the NCHC Rookie of the Year award. While Roslovic didn’t produce the staggering numbers his Moose teammate Kyle Connor posted at Michigan, Roslovic’s play earned him an entry level contract with the Jets and eventually a roster spot with the Moose.

Coming into the 2016-17 season, there were multiple options for Roslovic. He could remain in pro with either the Jets or Moose, but could also be assigned to junior where he would suit up for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights. Considering the results, nobody questions the decision for Roslovic to turn pro and play for the Moose. It was a decision the player feels accelerated his development.

“From the beginning of the season… I don’t even have the word for it,” Roslovic told reporters following his return from the All-Star Classic. “I’m way, way ahead. I think I’ve improved a ton. I think just being around these guys every day is great experience. I think if I went to junior I wouldn’t have been able to improve the way I’m improving.”

Despite cracking the professional ranks at the fresh age of 19, Roslovic’s work wasn’t done since he realizes the goal is to play for the Jets in the NHL. With that in mind, the rookie went about improving the details of his game.

“I’ve learned how to pick up the pace in my game. Doing little things like changing quicker, being better defensively. A lot of small bits and pieces that have improved a little bit,” he explained. “I think it’s about making those little pieces even better. I think my biggest weakness is in the D-zone and as soon as I figure that out, and really being able to work like a pro every day, once I do that I think I’ll get a chance.”

That work ethic and attention to detail along with a hefty amount of speed and skill made Roslovic an easy call to make for the staff putting together USA Hockey’s entry for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal. The Jets prospect finished the tournament with a pair of assists, not to mention a gold medal. Team USA outlasted Team Canada in one of the most memorable finals in tournament history.

In the late stages of the tournament, Roslovic learned he would represent the Moose at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic. The soon-to-be gold medallist was the second rookie in as many years to be Manitoba’s entry for the showcase after Eric Comrie got the nod in 2016. Before he donned a Central Division All-Stars sweater, he had to jump back into a Moose jersey for nine games.

Rejoining the team for its rescheduled game in Tucson, Roslovic picked up points in six of the nine games leading up to the All-Star break, totaling six points (1G, 5A) over that span. He became the first Moose player to reach the 20 point mark on the season and solidified his hold on the team’s scoring lead. To cap it off, Roslovic assisted on Kyle Connor’s game winning goal in a 2-1 Moose victory in Charlotte ahead of the break.

Kicking off the All-Star Classic festivities in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Roslovic turned heads immediately in the Skills Competition. The second skater to the line in the Fastest Skater competition, the rookie burned around the rink in 13.674 seconds. That mark was good for second place and sits in the record books as the fourth fastest time in AHL history. Roslovic capped the evening with a gorgeous goal in the breakaway relay, helping the Western Conference to a 15-11 victory on the evening. It was an opportunity for Roslovic and crew to put together a memorable experience for the fans in attendance and watching at home.

“It was fun and games. We went there to meet some guys around the league and put on a show for the fans. It was a great time.”

The next day saw the conferences break into their respective divisions with Roslovic and the Central Division capturing a second straight title in the three-on-three round robin tournament. The Moose rep picked up a helper over his three round robin matches and nearly potted the game-winner in the championship. The Central required a shootout to come out on top against the Atlantic Division. As one of the youngest players at the event, Roslovic had the chance to rub shoulders with some of the league’s more established veteran stars.

“I was kind of shy, kind of quiet. Being a 19-year-old… well, just turned 20, it’s cool and those older guys are awesome. It just kind of shows the characters that are in the hockey world. They took me in and it was a great experience.”

January was a frenetic month for the Moose rookie who spent time on one of hockey’s biggest stages at the World Juniors, took part in one of the AHL’s marquee events and managed to sneak in a birthday. All of that was wrapped around his responsibilities as a key player for the Manitoba Moose. Looking back on a busy and impressive 31 days, Roslovic summed up his month.

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s been fun. I’ve been part of some winning teams in the past month and coming back (to the Moose) and getting some wins too, it’s been fun. When you win it’s fun and just have a great time experiencing it all and it’s going to help me grow.”

Not even a season into his professional career and accolades starting to pile up. Jack Roslovic will be a player to watch as he continues to chase his goal of playing for the Winnipeg Jets.