So the biggest question surrounding the Miami hockey team this off-season was: Will Jack Roslovic return for 2016-17?
RedHawks players, coaches and fans got their answer just a month before classes started, as the first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets officially signed with his NHL club on Monday, ending his college career.
Here’s how we got to this point.
Roslovic was drafted 25th overall by Winnipeg last June. His talent was undeniable, as he turned heads playing for the U.S. National Development team. He had maintained that school was important to him, which is a key reason he chose Miami over the Ontario Hockey League, in which Flint (Mich.) held his rights.
In Oxford, Roslovic scored eight times in the RedHawks’ first 13 games, and on a team that struggled mightily to find the net early in the season, he was a savior.
Things went south for Miami toward the end of the 2015 calendar year, which the RedHawks finished 0-5-1. They were swept at Colorado College, the NCHC cellar dweller, in early December to wrap up the first half of the season.
Bad things go down when things go badly for sports teams, and the series against CC was nearly a breaking point for Miami. It wasn’t a well-kept secret that Roslovic considered leaving the team at that point, but to his credit remained in Oxford and finished the school year.
Defenses adjusted to Roslovic, who found the net just two more times in 2015-16. His defense also left much to be desired at times and he turned the puck over frequently.
But keep in mind he was 18 entering his freshman campaign, which overall was an immensely successful one, evidenced by the seven assists he picked up the last 12 games playing on a line with two other Columbus-raised forwards.
Fast forward to late last month: The Trade. His OHL rights were swapped from Flint to London, which everyone figured had to happen for a reason. That reason was one part of equation must’ve changed and London now thought it could lure Roslovic north of the border for his fourth juniors-eligible season.
Some Canadian media had his departure as a done deal. London has a history of picking off college and would-be collegiate players and is expected to be loaded after winning the Memorial Cup this spring.
Also on the pro-London side for Roslovic is the presence of Kole Sherwood, younger brother of RedHawks forward Kiefer Sherwood, who stars for the Knights.
But the NHL draft came and went, as did Winnipeg’s camp earlier this month, and Roslovic still had not packed his hockey bag for Canada.
This story came out in the Winnipeg Sun two weeks ago, in which Roslovic ultimately indicated the plan was for him to return to Oxford this fall.
One comment did leave the door open, however:
“We had a good team, there were just a few mishaps throughout the season that bit us,” said Roslovic. “But it was a great time. It’s a great college town. Going to school is definitely not my forte, but I kept up with my grades and had good marks.
Maybe not the most PC remark, but he’s 19 and people should respect honesty among athletes. And like he said, he received good grades.
By all accounts he had a strong camp with the Jets, but as the days after continued to click by, the odds increased that Roslovic would return to Miami.
Over the weekend, however, word started to get out that he had signed, which killed his NCAA eligibility.
Personal bias here, but BoB thinks he would learn more about improving his defense and other non-scoring aspects of his game if he stayed. Reilly Smith said as much in his final season at Miami, and look what the Oxford experience has done for him.
It probably won’t matter. Roslovic can flat-out play, and all paths likely will lead him to a lucrative NHL career. If he has improved enough, he may stick with Winnipeg (a long shot at this point) or be assigned to its AHL club (a lot more likely) and never see a puck drop with London.
Whatever happens after today, BoB respects the incredibly difficult decision this must’ve been for the teen sensation.
And whichever team he lands on this fall will be lucky to have him lacing up the skates.
BoB would like to wish the ultra-talented forward the best of luck in his professional career and thank him for a fun season.
We just selfishly wish we could’ve seen a couple more years of him.