Rangers Acquire Jack Roslovic from Blue Jackets

Rangers Acquire Jack Roslovic from Blue Jackets
Oct 30, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic (96) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

No, he’s not Jake Guentzel. Nor is he Pavel Buchnevich, or even Frank Vatrano.

But the New York Rangers have indeed added a forward in center/right winger Jack Roslovic from the Columbus Blue Jackets, according to multiple reports. The return is a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, which would become a third-rounder if the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Roslovic carries an average annual cap hit of $4 million, and is a pending unrestricted free agent. The Blue Jackets retained 50% of his salary in the trade.

Again, Roslovic might not be the big name or high-impact player that many Rangers fans were hoping for. But he will help the team, and at that price, it’s hard to find much downside.

Roslovic, 27, missed some time earlier this season with a fractured ankle, and has thus only played in 40 games. He has accumulated 23 points (six goals and 17 assists) and, encouragingly, 13 of those points have come in the past 12 games. He had 11-33-44 in 77 games last season, and eclipsed the 20-goal plateau the year before, with 22-23-45 in 81 games.

Roslovic began his NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets, and was traded to the Blue Jackets in 2021 as part of the deal that also sent Patrik Laine to Columbus, with Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick going back to Winnipeg.

The Rangers have options with the right-shooting Roslovic, as they could place him as the right wing on the third line with Will Cuylle and the newly-acquired Alex Wennberg. They could also see how he fits with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, while Kaapo Kakko could slide down to the third line with Cuylle and Wennberg.

The latter option might be more intriguing to try first, as Roslovic brings speed and a strong transition game that might help unlock the even-strength offense of Zibanejad and Kreider. He might have some holes defensively, but if the Rangers are going to truly compete for a Stanley Cup — especially against some opponents who have made more eye-opening improvements — they badly need Zibanejad in particular to start producing more offense at five-on-five. Roslovic’s speed, playmaking, and transition abilities could help with that.

Guentzel landing with the Carolina Hurricanes — the Rangers’ likely second-round playoff opponent if they make it to that point — still hurts. That being said, while this move, along with the Wennberg acquisition, might not move the needle to the same degree, it certainly makes the Rangers more balanced and dangerous than they were before. Hopefully it will also have some positive ripple effects on other players in the forward corps. At the very least, the acqusitions of Wennberg and Roslovic should push Adam Edstrom and Matt Rempe out of the lineup, mercifully putting an end to Rempe Mania.