2020-21 Team: Utica Comets
Date of Birth: October 12, 1998
Place of Birth: Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Wt: 209 pounds
Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft #55 Overall
Gadjovich’s Hockey Journey So Far
Whitby Wildcats (ETAHL)
Before Jonah Gadjovich joined the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he was playing AAA hockey with the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. His hometown team has churned out some great NHL power forwards in James Neal, Keith Primeau, Joe Nieuwendyk, Jamie Allison, and Gary Roberts in the past, so it stands to reason that he could become one too.
In his final season with the Wildcats, Gadjovich scored 15 goals and 30 points in 23 games while wearing an “A” on his chest.
Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Gadjovich’s journey in the OHL started at the 2014 OHL Draft, where he was selected 39th overall by the Owen Sound Attack. Not long after that, he made his OHL debut on Sept 24 against the Kitchener Rangers alongside another future Canucks draft pick in Petrus Palmu. Four games later, he scored his first OHL goal and posted the first two-point game of his junior career. Though, that turned out to be a rarity that season as he only could find the net four times in 60 games.
The height of Gadjovich’s junior career came during the 2016-17 season, which was coincidentally the first year of his draft eligibility. Teaming up with now-Montreal Canadiens’ star Nick Suzuki, he scored a career-high 46 goals and 74 points, which also included five game-winning goals and five goals and eight points in the playoffs. That got him noticed by the Vancouver Canucks and their scouts, who ended up selecting him in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Despite being limited to only 42 games during the 2017-18 season, Gadjovich still managed to score 25 goals. He also was named to Team Canada’s roster for the 2018 World Junior Championship (WJC). He ended up finishing his OHL career with 89 goals and 155 points in 228 games.
Team Canada (2018 WJC)
Gadjovich played a key role in Team Canada’s domination of the 2018 WJC where they came away with a gold medal. He was a beast in every game and finished with two goals and three points in seven games. He also was a key penalty killer for his team as he did a great job clogging shooting lanes and of course, winning battles along the boards with his somewhat obvious size and strength.
Utica Comets (AHL)
Just like his junior career, Gadjovich’s first foray into the professional ranks was a bit rocky. Often banished to the press box or deployed as a third or fourth liner by Utica Comets’ head coach Trent Cull, he only managed to put up four goals and 10 points in 43 games. Like most forwards coming into the AHL from the junior circuit, he struggled with the speed of the game and needed a couple of seasons to get acclimated. His sophomore season saw marked improvement as he tripled his production to a modest 13 goals and 17 points in 38 games.
Though it wasn’t until the 2020-21 season where he really broke out of his shell. Elevated to a regular top-six role and major power play time, Gadjovich filled the net to the tune of a career-high 15 goals and 18 points in only 19 games. He was an elite presence around the net, banging in rebounds, tipping pucks, and expertly busting to the goal with his massive 6-foot-2, 209-pound frame. Deservedly so, he was called up to the Canucks on May 2, 2021, and is now awaiting his first NHL game.
Gadjovich’s bread and butter is clearly in front of the net, as he possesses not only great hand/eye coordination but also a massive frame that gets in the eyes of the goaltender. He’s proven himself to be a master at setting screens, tipping pucks, and banging in rebounds, which should see him get plenty of power play time in the NHL. His skating and overall speed are still an issue, but shouldn’t hold him back from becoming at least a solid contributor in the bottom six.
- Strong net front presence
Improvements to Make
- Transitional play
Development Since 2017 Draft
Ever since his draft year in 2017, one of the knocks on Gadjovich was his skating, even when he debuted in the AHL with the Comets. In fact, it was primarily the thing holding him back from taking his game to the next level. The 2020-21 season saw a marked improvement in that area as he looked faster to pucks on the forecheck and on rushes to the net. He also revealed more of the intriguing power forward package he displayed during his days in the OHL when he scored 46 goals with the Owen Sound Attack.
Gadjovich’s newfound elite production could be the product of a less-skilled AHL, but that shouldn’t discount this positive shift in his development. The fact that he’s taken advantage of it should give everyone hope for the future. His size, hands in front of the net, and willingness to do anything to protect his teammates are things the Canucks have needed in their lineup for a very long time. Hopefully, by the time I update his development path again, I am citing these same things, but at the NHL level.
Projected NHL Ceiling: Top-Nine Power Play Specialist
If all goes well, Gadjovich will become a solid top-six forward capable of potting 20 goals every season. If he sees regular time on the power play as the net-front presence, those numbers are definitely reachable. His skating will always be an issue unless he gets on the Bo Horvat regimen, but the improvements he’s already seen in that area should be enough to get him to that ceiling.
NHL Comparables: Tomas Holmstrom, Patric Hornqvist
Looking at Gadjovich, you’d probably think a couple of things. One, please don’t eat me, and two, this guy’s probably a goon. Those assumptions couldn’t be more wrong — he’s a very nice guy and he’s also an offensive weapon. Not to say he couldn’t eat you or be a goon.Matt Lawson, former THW writer on Gadjovich after the 2018 WJC
Overall, I feel better mentally and physically…I feel more confident, I feel like I’m getting to pucks first this year, more often than I was before. I feel stronger on pucks, I feel stronger in front of the net, I feel like my hands are better in front of the net, I just feel like I have overall just improved my game. I think that for me it’s just about being confident and playing with that edge. I’m just trying to do my job.Jonah Gadjovich on the improvements he’s seen in his game
Gadjovich has shown substantial growth over the past calendar year, picking up his pace, explosiveness from a standstill, and his foot speed more broadly. He’s now covering significantly more ground, using linear crossovers more to gain speed, and with a motor that runs higher than in years past.Daniel Gee, Crossover Scout, EP Rinkside (from ‘How Jonah Gadjovich developed his game en route to an eventual NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks’, EP Rinkside, 5/7/21)
- Nicknamed The Man Child
- Was a teammate of fellow prospect Petrus Palmu on the Attack
- Drafted using a pick the Canucks acquired as compensation for the Columbus Blue Jackets signing John Tortorella
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.