Many people called it the Laine-Dubois trade.
Perhaps they're changing their tune a bit. Jack Roslovic, who had been training in Columbus while waiting for a new contract or trade from the Winnipeg Jets, has been the top performer in the deal so far.
Roslovic has tallied 4-5-9 in eight games while playing on the Blue Jackets' top line with Patrik Laine and Cam Atkinson (who has been playing better of late, as well). Columbus is 3-0-0 when Roslovic scores.
“It’s been huge,” Atkinson said after the Blue Jackets' wild comeback victory last night. “I love playing with him. He slows the game down and he’s always in the right position, especially breaking out of our zone...he’s playing really well for us, been one of our best players since he got traded here.”
Perhaps the best part about his story is that Roslovic is Columbus, born-and-raised. Growing up, Roslovic played in the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program. In the 2015 NHL Draft, he went No. 25 overall to the Jets. He played one season of college hockey just two hours west at Miami University (Ohio) before turning pro.
In Winnipeg, he struggled to get ice time behind a star-studded group of forwards that included Mark Schifele, Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, Bryan Little and others. In 180 games, Roslovic averaged just 12:13 of ice time per game, but still put up 26 goals and 67 points while mostly playing on the third and fourth lines. Then, in late January, the trade he had been hoping for finally went through.
"Jack is an exciting young player with great potential and we’re thrilled to bring him home to Columbus as a Blue Jacket," said GM Jarmo Kekalainen after the deal was completed.
Roslovic's first goal in a Blue Jackets uniform came Feb. 4 against the Dallas Stars. Zach Werenski made a slick pass, Eric Robinson let it go through to Roslovic, and he buried the puck.
Then, on Monday night, Roslovic notched the game-winning goal against the Hurricanes with a highlight-reel between-the-legs dangle and five-hole finish.
"He has shown a tremendous swagger with the puck...I didn't realize how good of a skater he was," said head coach John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets' wild win over the Blackhawks.
Thursday night, he continued his scoring ways. Roslovic's first tally was a rocket on the power play that made it a 3-2 game late in the second period and gave the Blue Jackets some life after a tough stretch.
Then, he tied the game at 4-4 in the third period, burying a loose puck created by Atkinson's initial shot attempt from the wing.
"If you let in five, you gotta score six," Roslovic said with a smile after the game. He's now averaging 16:50 of ice time with the Blue Jackets, and 20:02 in his last three games.
The Blue Jackets traded away their first-line center in Dubois, but they may have unearthed a gem in the hometown kid.