Friday, October 30, 2020
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Jets set to deal Roslovic?

Jets set to deal Roslovic?
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There are some significant NHL trade winds blowing in the direction of the Winnipeg Jets once again. 

Two sources told the Free Press on Sunday the hockey club is actively in talks regarding restricted free agent forward Jack Roslovic. Winnipeg’s target appears to be adding a high-end defenceman, preferably a left-shot, who could slide into a top-four role along with Josh Morrissey, Neal Pionk and Dylan DeMelo.

Roslovic, 23, has been stuck on the wing in the Jets’ bottom six for most of his career since being selected in the first round, 25th overall, in the 2015 draft. He has been quietly seeking a change of scenery.

“He’s a natural centre but hasn’t been able to establish himself at that position. It’s very likely he gets moved,” a source said, adding GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has spoken to a few different teams about Roslovic in recent days.

Roslovic is coming out of his entry-level deal and had 12 goals and 17 assists in 71 games last year, then added two assists in four playoff games against Calgary. The Columbus, Ohio native has 26 goals and 41 assists in 180 career NHL regular-season games.

He’s still young enough, with obvious skills and offensive upside, to be an attractive option for rival clubs if Cheveldayoff is looking to shake up his roster without moving one of his bigger forward weapons such as Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers. 

The Jets have made four moves over the past week regarding their blue-line, but none that would be deemed major. 

They re-signed their own unrestricted free agents in DeMelo, Nathan Beaulieu and Luca Sbisa, and added UFA blue-liner Derek Forbort on a one-year, $1 million contract Sunday.  The 28-year-old from Duluth is a big, physical presence at six-foot-four, 219 pounds who has played 275 career NHL games with Los Angeles and, most recently, the Calgary Flames. A former first-round draft pick (15th overall in 2010), Forbort provides limited offence, but he’s a shot-blocking specialist who can help the club’s penalty kill.

“I’m surprised they haven’t addressed their main need everyone has been talking about for over a year,” an NHL agent told the Free Press on Sunday. “You can’t really say with certainty their D is any better today than the last game of the play-ins. They haven’t even made a pitch for any impact defencemen that I’m aware of.”

With Roslovic now on the open market, that could be about to change. 

The Jets have made one trade already since free agency began on Friday, re-acquiring centre Paul Stastny from Vegas in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick and depth defenceman Carl Dahlstrom. There was some thought the two teams could come together once again, with the Golden Knights needing to clear even more salary to make a play for UFA defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, who spent the weekend touring Sin City as part of a sales pitch to him and is expected to ink a deal after leaving St. Louis. 

One potential target, Vegas defender Nate Schmidt, was rumoured to be on the move late Sunday, but it was the Florida Panthers identified in some reports as potential suitors. The 29-year-old would check off several boxes for Winnipeg, but his contract —  five more years at $5.95 million — would be impossible to absorb without other subsequent moves.

Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders and MacKenzie Weegar of the Florida Panthers are two other players of interest to keep an eye on going forward.

Winnipeg now has Morrissey, Pionk, DeMelo, Forbort, Beaulieu, Sbisa, Tucker Poolman, Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola under contract for next year, creating plenty of competition on the blue-line. Sami Niku is also in that mix, as the restricted free agent needs a new deal.

Niku’s name has also been mentioned as a potential trade chip, especially if the Jets must shed salary to allow for additional moves. As of Sunday, Winnipeg is nearly at the $81.5 million ceiling, and adding a top-tier defenceman in a trade for Roslovic would require some additional financial surgery. 

One option is finding a taker for oft-injured forward Mathieu Perreault, who is in the final year of his contract that pays him $4.125 million. The Jets might have to add a sweetener to convince a team to take Perreault’s contact off their hands, which is where someone like Niku could come into play. 

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg





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