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.

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.