Saturday night on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman gave an update of league news and notes and as a part of that he turned his attention to Winnipeg forward Jack Roslovic.
Roslovic is currently an RFA without a contract, and we’ve talked earlier about why he might be intriguing to the Penguins. Friedman also connected the dots on the actual interest that Pittsburgh has:
“Here’s the situation: Jack Roslovic is unsigned, he’s asked for a trade, he’s not with the Jets. The Pittsburgh Penguins have started the season 0-2, we know Jim Rutherford is not afraid. I also believe they’re one of the teams that are very interested, we’ll see if there’s a match.”
While Rutherford is always active, at this point I’m not sure how much Roslovic makes sense in the heat of the moment for the Pens now that the season has gotten underway. A big factor in this is that the Pens’ third line, and notably Mark Jankowski, has been absolutely awesome and everything they wanted and more the first few games of the season.
Likewise, Teddy Blueger has been strong, and Brandon Tanev has been one of the most impactful forwards on the whole team. Add in that Kasperi Kapanen will be playing sooner than later (and possibly as early as tomorrow night) and that provides more forward depth.
Had Jankowski not impressed, looking externally to Roslovic would make more sense. As of now, the Pens should be more than steady with the forward material that they have on hand right now.
Overall, though, I do think Roslovic makes sense for the Pens. He’s 23 years old and already is a pretty decent NHL caliber player. The number of good bets for NHL caliber forwards they have in the 20-23 year old range right now looks like it’s just Kapanen and maybe Drew O’Connor, if you’re bullish on a guy with 0 career pro games. Pittsburgh could use the youth infusion of a player like Roslovic.
But, the acquisition price would have to be right. Roslovic has no leverage and would have to sign for a cheap one year deal, so that part would be fine, especially since the Pens could clear more salary and cap space by sliding Sam Lafferty to the practice squad if they brought in Roslovic.
The more interesting angle is just what Winnipeg would be willing to accept in order to trade Roslovic. Reports were earlier that the Jets were seeking a left handed defenseman for Roslovic. Marcus Pettersson would be a big time over-pay. I suggested the possibility of a youngster like Pierre-Olivier Joseph earlier, but even at this point that appears to be unnecessary from the Pittsburgh perspectice. Does Juuso Riikola make sense? Maybe not now being as Mike Matheson is known to be out long-term with an injury.
Pittsburgh dropping to 0-2 might have given Rutherford a bit of an itch to make a trade. But the Matheson injury and a win yesterday might quell his mood a bit. Especially with Kapanen about to join the team, it makes sense for the Pens to see what happens with their current group before adding more.
There are plenty of reasons for the Pens to be interested in a pretty decent young NHL forward, but at this point a Pittsburgh/Winnipeg trade doesn’t really seem like a perfect match for either side. As such, Jack Roslovic might be sitting a bit longer, unless the Jets find a different NHL team to send him to.