Can Jack Roslovic be a top line center for the Columbus Blue Jackets

As NHL training camp is about two weeks away, the Columbus Blue Jackets have some serious work to do. At the top of the training camp list is finding a top line center. At the moment the reshaped Blue Jackets roster is void of any such vital position player. It is being widely speculated the team is going to give a long look at Jack Roslovic to see if he can step in and step up.

COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 2: Patrick Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena on February 2, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

With newly drafted centers Kent Johnson (heading back to the University of Michigan) and Cole Sillinger (could be headed to the Cleveland Monsters) not expected this season in Columbus, the Blue Jackets still have a major issue at center. Both Johnson and Sillinger are projected to be very good NHL players, but first development must take place.

Jack Roslovic, who can play center and in fact did so for the Blue Jackets last season has never been viewed as a player who can handle the top line. Yet, that is what the Blue Jackets need. They also need a center who can feed the puck to Patrik Laine.

There is a lot of pressure playing on the top line in the NHL. After all that is the line that is supposed to lead the way in terms of goals and minutes played. One thing that Jack Roslovic will have going for him is he will have Jakub Voracek (right wing) and Laine (left wing) on either side of him. That can do nothing but help the young Roslovic.

Playing two minutes per game longer than he did the season prior with the  Winnipeg Jets (2019-20), Roslovic tied his NHL high with 12 goals and set career marks with 22 assists and 34 points.  Offense is not really an issue for Roslovic.

On defense however, Roslovic was a bit of a hot mess as was his alarming struggles in the faceoff circle. To be fair he did improve a bit on faceoffs late in the season. But, in today’s NHL top line centers are expected to be solid two-way players.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 04: Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals during the first period at Capital One Arena on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

His growth into a top line center has a lot of variables to it. First, Roslovic needs lean into his work ethic and work his tail off. Secondly, Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen and his new system must be solid to give the young center an chance to grow his game. Assistant coaches will be counted on heavily.

It is not ideal, but this is what the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to see through, one way or another.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi has shoulder surgery, what it means for the roster

Columbus Blue Jackets center Max Domi underwent successful shoulder surgery Thursday to repair a labral tear. According to Blue Jackets general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, Domi had been having trouble with the shoulder for some time. That may have contributed to an underwhelming season for the usually reliable Domi. With the Columbus Blue Jackets already in need of center help, does the Domi news force the Blue Jackets to trade for a center?

COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 2: Max Domi #16 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Dallas Stars on February 2, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In recent days the Columbus Blue Jackets have been linked to Buffalo Sabers center Sam Reinhart. The Sabers are in desperate need of a goalie. The Columbus Blue Jackets have two goalies as well as very good depth in the organization. So trading either Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for Reinhart would work for both teams.

Max Domi is expected to miss 5-6 months which means he will miss the start of the regular season as he is looking for a November return. Domi struggled this season with 9 goals, 15 assists, 24 points, 75 penalty minutes in 54 games in 2020-21.

As stated it is unknown at this time what role the shoulder injury played in Max Domi’s season. Domi did begin to play better as the season moved along but never reached the level of past seasons. At just 26 years old Domi is far from a declining player.

RALEIGH, NC – MAY 1: Max Domi #16 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after scoring a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during an NHL game on May 1, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in dire straits at center. The team needs a top line center in the worst way. Now with Domi being shelved for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season the Blue Jackets need a second line center as well. A position that a player like Sam Reinhart could fill.

In what has already shaped up to be a busy offseason for the Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and President of Hockey Operations, John Davidson, The Max Domi injury may have added to the busyness.

In a no good, very bad season Jack Roslovic shined for the Columbus Blue Jackets

The trade, the Columbus Blue Jackets sent forward Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Laine was the marquee name. Yet it was Columbus Ohio native Jack Roslovic that had a big impact on the Blue Jackets. If Laine did not come in the trade Roslovic would have been the feel good story of the NHL.

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 28: Jack Roslovic #96 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Florida Panthers on January 28, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Even playing in Winnipeg, Jack Roslovic made no bones about the fact he would love the opportunity to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets one day. On April 3, 2017, Roslovic made his NHL debut. The Jets took on the Blue Jackets at Nation Wide Arena. Roslovic’s family was in attendance.

So needless to say when the Blue Jackets and Jets struck the blockbuster trade Roslovic was ecstatic as he was heading home to Columbus. Here was a player who wanted (very badly) to play for the Blue Jackets, no “buy in” was needed.

As it turned out Jack Roslovic stood out in an otherwise bad season for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Roslovic’s near point-per game was right around .75 only Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand were able to sustain that this season for the Blue Jackets.

Not very good in the face-off circle Roslovic was not asked to take many. Also, Roslovic has many deficiencies defensively. Yet, many hockey experts and the Columbus Blue Jackets believe Jack Roslovic is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can do offensively.

Proving his worth, the Blue Jackets could use (depending on what the team does during free agency) Roslovic as the second line center. His numbers back it up. Last season Max Domi was the Blue Jackets second line center and struggled mightily.

Domi struggled so much so, that it would be hard for the Blue Jackets to justify keeping Roslovic on the third line when he should be given second line minutes.

SUNRISE, FL – APRIL 20: Jack Roslovic #96 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on April 20, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jack Roslovic played with consistency during the 2020-21 season and should continue to grow into an even more valuable player for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 

Detroit Red Wings Michael Rasmussen has a newly found confidence

Michael Rasmussen, was the Detroit Red Wings 2017 first-round draft pick. Playing the 2018-19 NHL season in Detroit, because the only other option was playing junior hockey. Rasmussen, struggled that season in Detroit. He would have been better off playing in Grand Rapids with the Griffins if that was in the cards.

Last season due to the pandemic, Michael Rasmussen played just 35 games for the Griffins, as did every AHL player. Sitting idle for long periods of time is not ideal for young players.  Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman lent the young center to a team in Austria this past fall.

It was in Austria that Rasmussen flashed the talent he is projected to have in the NHL. In 18 games played, Michael Rasmussen had 5 goals and 18 points. Along the way to becoming a point a game player at least in Austria, Rasmussen found his confidence.

Now in the mix for a roster spot with the Red Wings, Rasmussen entered training camp in the best shape of his career to date. Adding a little muscle, the young Red Wings prospect said he feels like he is in game shape and credits playing in Austria as the primary reason why.

Since being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, fans want Michael Rasmussen’s development to happen at a faster rate, forgetting he is only 21 years old. Rasmussen is a big piece in the Red Wings future.

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – SEPTEMBER 12: Michael Rasmussen #27 of the Detroit Red Wings poses for his official headshot for the 2019-2020 season at Center Ice Arena on September 12, 2019 in Traverse City, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Rasmussen is a  6 foot 6 inch, 220 lbs center who is strong around the net and understands how to use his size and strength, for a young player he is not afraid to block shots as well.

Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill believes Rasmussen can be a shutdown center. Meaning he can face other teams best and hold his own. That is critical for the Red Wings moving forward to have a trusted center.

Early injuries  impacted Rasmussen at the junior and pro level. He is now mentally stronger and has overcome injuries, that is a big part of player development.

The Detroit Red Wings are looking and need more scoring depth. With a newly found confidence, Michael Rasmussen could provide the team what is sorely needs.

Detroit Pistons: Drummond receives green light to shoot 3 pointers

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond was given permission few big man get. Drummond’s head coach Dwane Casey wants the big man to shoot 3 pointers.

 

First things first, Andre Drummond will not be hanging out in three point land. His job is in the paint. As a both feared and gifted defender Drummond knows this full well. But teams will not be able to tell when he is going to pull up and fire a 3-point attempt.

 

In order to add to his already extensive list of offensive weapons the 3-pointer  is something he is going to add more of. Rolling to the rim, rebounds both offensive and defensive and power moves already have been established. Andre Drummond is a very good center. This will round his game further along.

 

At the Detroit Pistons media day, Drummond said he has never had a coach that would allow him to grow his 3-point game. Enter Dwane Casey. Fresh off NBA coach of the year. Odds are pretty good Casey knows what he is doing. It sounds like player and coach are on the same page.

 

It use to be Drummond would “mess around in practice with the three.” Dwane Casey said it has an upside. “It is about taking advantage of spacing. It opens doors on the court.” It seems Casey is willing to join the current league “in thing.” That is a good thing. The Pistons could be left in the dust if they do not follow along.

 

More and more NBA teams are encouraging their big men to shoot. It seems both Casey and Andre are thinking in 74 3-point shots are taken during the season Drummond could make 40.5 percent of those shots.

 

It is another way to both get the Pistons down in the defensive end quicker as well as create space for offensive rebounds and put ins. This is a way the Detroit Pistons can generate more offensive points.

Detroit Red Wings: draft profile Joe Veleno

Embed from Getty Images Much the same way Filip Zadina fell in the Detroit Red Wings, lap. So did center Joe Veleno. He was viewed as a lottery pick. Yet Joe Veleno, fell all the way to number 30. The Detroit Red Wings, with their second first round draft pick ended his fall.

The 6′ 1″ Quebec native has a quick first step. He is blessed with fantastic  acceleration. Joe Veleno’s skating sets him apart. He is strong on the puck and is viewed and projects as a line two center.

Veleno, is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He has great vision and is able to get the puck to teammates in tough areas. He uses his blinding speed to open up passing lanes. Most likely headed to the Grand Rapids Griffins, Joe needs to add muscle and get power behind his shots.

He is not afraid to help out on defense. Solid on the backcheck. And a willingness to block shots make Joe Veleno, a very good pick.

His game will remind some of Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent- Hopkins. As he puts in the work and his game evolves to what scouts say he is going to be and the Detroit Red Wings and the Wings, fan base hopes he is going to be Joe Veleno should be in Motown within two year.

 

Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Lions general manager, Bob Quinn stuck by his drafting dependable players during last nights first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Grabbing a center and helping the Lions, offensive line.

At 6′ 5″ 312 lbs. Frank Ragnow is a hulk of a center. He was captain of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He is strong and is a tough run blocker. Something the Detroit Lions have lacked at the center position.

Leading up to the draft Lions head coach Matt Patricia, said he likes to build teams from the ball out. Check. Ragnow, also is somewhat versatile in that he can also line up at right guard.

He did have a high ankle injury that lead to surgery during the Razorbacks, 2017 season. Detroit, must have been pleased with the medical records.

One drawback on Frank Ragnow is his hands sometimes get outside the pads and leads to holding penalties. With all of that the Detroit Lions, got a heck of a player. A guy who can be a fixture for a longtime to come.

Both the Detroit, passing and running game just improved as well. In an earlier blog I said I did not think Bob Quinn, would draft a running back in the first round at #20.

I could see them drafting one in rounds two or three.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Pierre Luc-Dubois

Embed from Getty Images The Columbus Blue Jackets, had been searching for a first line center. They found one in rookie Pierre Luc- Dubois. His growth this season has been nothing short of remarkable.

During the 2016 NHL  draft many experts full expected the Blue Jackets, to take Jesse Pujujarvi, and said to be electric scorer. Then came the shocker When Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made the call Pujujarvi looked stunned Dubois looked stunned. But in the end it was the right pick.

Pierre, kind of flew under the radar. He started making a name for himself a month before the draft. He has elite speed great hands and is fearless on the boards. At 6′ 3″ he is a good size for center.

He plays on the first line in Columbus,  with Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. That’s realy good company. Dubois has  earned the right to anchor the top line. 20 goals and new Columbus Blue Jackets rookie record 48 points tell part of the story.

His want to continue to play sound defense should not be over looked. He has improved through the season on faceoffs and forechecking. Pierre Luc-Dubois is the total package.

Fans of the Blue Jackets, should enjoy watching his career unfold as he is only going to improve. The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. If you have not seen him play. You should tune in.