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Penguins’ trade target Jack Roslovic a part of blockbuster Winnipeg-Columbus trade

Pittsburgh won’t be getting one player they were interested in

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Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The NHL doesn’t feel like it has as many major, blockbuster trades as in the past, but Saturday morning the hockey world was rocked by a rare massive trade of young star players. Patrick Laine is going to Columbus in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois heading to Winnipeg.

The second part of this trade has some relevance for the Penguins — they were very interested in trading for unsigned RFA Jack Roslovic. Instead, Roslovic is also heading to Columbus as a part of this deal.

Pittsburgh is probably slightly annoyed they won’t get the chance to bring in Roslovic, but it may be a blessing in disguise. As reporter Eric Duhatschek said recently in The Athletic, “Winnipeg would be happy to get some draft capital back” for Roslovic. They ended up getting a third round pick in this deal. The Pens could have done a 2022 third round pick, but the Jets no doubt would have been pushing for a 2021 second rounder in a standalone trade. The Pens only have a 2nd, 5th and three 7th round picks in 2021, trading that highest pick might not be something they were comfortable in doing.

And, even if Pittsburgh got Roslovic for a 2022 third round pick, there’s also the Seattle expansion draft to consider. The Pens are already in a jam with too many good forwards and not enough spots to protect them. They almost certainly going to have to leave two out of the three available between Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev and Teddy Blueger. They don’t have room to protect Roslovic, who would be added to the list.

Seattle is only going to be able to take one player, but imagine sending a future 2022 draft pick only to lose said young NHL player just acquired a few months later at the expansion draft? That would be more unfortunate asset management and just look totally needless and avoidable. Thus, it might be a better play in the long run that Pittsburgh couldn’t land Roslovic.

But this big trade isn’t that much about Roslovic, it’s the swapping of young stars in their 20’s. How will Patrick Laine, a former 40+ goal scorer with a huge shot but also at times mercurial seeming attitude fare with a hard-line coach like John Tortorella? Laine also is a RFA this summer and his idea of a long-term NHL home probably wasn’t Columbus, so how long is this arrangement going to last? Some very interesting topics to think about, and it almost feels like the Blue Jackets just answered a question in a way that will bring more questions in the future.

The Jets are now super-stacked down the middle. Mark Scheifele is one of the best players in the league who receives little attention nationally. Dubois really isn’t as good of a two-way center as his reputation suggests, but he is a very, very good player and only 22. Veteran Paul Stastny is back in the fold and Adam Lowry is a big-body checker. That’s a really deep group down the middle in Winnipeg and it’s tough to not be impressed that they were able to turn a disgruntled winger into a very elite young center.