Roslovic, Connor called up to join Jets

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Winnipeg hockey fans who had been clamouring for the recall of centre Jack Roslovic and left-winger Kyle Connor from the minors got part of what they wanted Monday morning.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/04/2017 (2067 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg hockey fans who had been clamouring for the recall of centre Jack Roslovic and left-winger Kyle Connor from the minors got part of what they wanted Monday morning.

The 20-year-old forwards were summoned from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in morning and practised with the Jets hours later but won’t be in the lineup when Winnipeg opens a two-game road trip against St. Louis Blues Tuesday night (7 p.m., TSN3, TSN 1290).

“Both have had good years and we’ll take a look at putting them in,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “I don’t think they’ll be getting into the St. Louis game, but we’ll go from there.”

Connor and Roslovic were chosen in the first round of the 2015 draft, 17th and 25th overall, respectively, but have not been fast-tracked to the NHL. In fact, Winnipeg management is proceeding very cautiously with both of them. It seems likely both could be in the lineup when the Jets, who have been officially eliminated for contention for a playoff berth, take on the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Kyle Connor has scored 10 goals in his past six games.

Roslovic is in his first season as a professional after leaving Miami University (Ohio) following his freshman season and currently leads the Moose in scoring with 45 points, including 13 goals, in 61 games. He represented Manitoba at the AHL all-star game and was also part of the gold-medal-winning American team at the world junior championship.

Connor, meanwhile, started the 2016-17 season with the Jets and had one goal and four points in 19 NHL games after leaving the University of Michigan. Since being assigned to the Moose on Dec. 9, he has been on a tear, chalking up 42 points, including 23 goals in 49 games. He has at least a point in 14 of his last 19 AHL games, including 15 goals.

It would be an nice coincidence for Roslovic to make his NHL debut in Columbus, his hometown.

“I’m pretty excited, obviously,” said Roslovic. “The team’s playing in Columbus and being from there is going to be fun even if I (just) go to watch.”

Roslovic feels good about his game, which he believes has improved during his apprenticeship with the Moose.

“I think that I’ve made a lot of strides in my game and being more complete,” he said. “(Moose) coach (Pascal) Vincent was obviously an assistant with Paul last year and he knows, he kind of expects the same thing Paul would expect out of me. Really just preparing for the next level was the goal for me.”

Maurice said the nature of Roslovic’s adjustment to the pro game is something he’s seen before.

“There’s a major difference from college hockey and potentially junior to play pro hockey,” said Maurice. “Most of it, you find with good skaters, they’re not skating all the time. They’re starting and stopping. Just the reads, the game gets faster. At centre, you’re half a defenceman, half a forward. So there’s a lot more to the process.”

Manitoba Moose forward Jack Roslovic (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Connor, who projects as a scorer in the NHL, has morphed into a better all-around player while still displaying the devastating offensive skill he flashed in the NCAA.

“My whole game, my 200-foot game (has improved),” Connor said. “Winning more battles all around the ice and just learning to play more of a pro-style game… (Offence) is still a big part of my game and points aren’t everything but when you’re playing well, you don’t think about the points, they just come.”

Maurice sounded impressed with what Connor has accomplished in the AHL.

“There’s lots of good raw pieces with his game,” said Maurice. “Real good speed, great release. He makes plays but the understanding of being involved in the play all the time is a big difference here…. There are fewer and fewer perimeter players left anymore. Everybody’s involved in the play all the time — that’s an adjustment players need to make.”

Maurice has three regular-season games left in which to use the Roslovic and Connor and didn’t sound like he had settled on plan.

“That’s the question; do you play them together?” he said. “We’re a little more reluctant to do that in the first game. (I’d) like to have two (veteran) guys on the wings or a centre and a winger that can talk them through the game. Get on the road, you’re probably running a checking (third) line less so you can make some movements on Adam Lowry’s line. But usually for a first game you just let them play and talk to them about it after.” 

LITTLE WEIGHS IN ON LAINE

Patrik Laine’s production has taken a tumble — one goal in his last eight games and two in his last 13 — but that’s no reason for alarm, linemate Bryan Little said.

“He’s a good player, he’s going to find the back of the net,” Little said. “He’s going to get points. The team’s not too worried about it; his name’s going to be in consideration (for the Calder Trophy) no matter what…

“You can tell he’s a bit frustrated. He wants to do well. He wants to help the team. Sometimes that happens. It’s almost like the harder you try, the harder it is. It’s not for a lack of chances.”

MYERS STILL ON HOLD

Veteran defenceman Tyler Myers hasn’t played since Nov. 11 but after surgery for a lower-body injury and months of rehab, he’s eager to play at least once before the end of the season. It’s very unlikely that will come Tuesday in St. Louis.

“He got through practice today — there were a few drills he was a little more careful with,” Maurice said. “I don’t have a better answer for you. We’d like him to play but he’s not going in unless he can push off and stride hard.”

 

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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Updated on Monday, April 3, 2017 3:23 PM CDT: Adds quotes, revises lede.

Updated on Monday, April 3, 2017 8:04 PM CDT: corrects school name

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