I think we’ve beaten the “New Jersey Devils need Defense” narrative to death around here lately, and while it is merited, the draft is not going to be an immediate help to the team, with the possible exception of the first overall pick. No, the NHL Entry Draft is simply a way for our beloved Devils to attempt to continue stocking the pipeline with talented prospects in hope that we don’t encounter another stretch of missing the playoffs anytime soon, assuming we can get this current streak to end shortly. For the pool to remain full, the Devils will need to find talent at all positions, not just one, and today we look at a young man named Jonah Gadjovich who could be on New Jersey’s radar despite the fact that he plays the one of the few positions (left wing) where the team is currently not an absolute train wreck.
Who is Jonah Gadjovich?
Thanks to information from Elite Prospects, we know that Gadjovich was born on October 12, 1998 in Whitby Ontario, Canada. Gadjovich is another prospect that already is closing in on NHL size, standing 6’2” and weighing 201 lbs. That size should work in his favor come draft day, as it’s one factor aiding him in eventually, hopefully reaching the NHL.
He started out his career in the Whitby Wildcats AAA system before being drafted to the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack where he has spent his past three seasons. His rookie and sophomore campaigns were both fairly forgettable, as he posted 9 points in 60 games his first year and 24 in 66 his second. Last season, however, Jonah seemed to breakout with 46 goals and 28 assists for 74 points in 60 games; his production improved 50 points from the past season even though he appeared in 6 less games. He has seen his draft stock rise thanks to this jump in production.
Where is Gadjovich Ranked?
According to the available rankings, here is where Jonah is currently projected against his fellow prospects:
I found it funny that he was ranked in the exact same spot by Future Considerations and The Draft Analyst; it would be funnier if New Jersey owned that pick as well, but hey #81 courtesy of the San Jose Sharks is close enough. Hockey Prospect and Craig Button of TSN have him ranked quite a bit higher, though they are older rankings. Central Scouting’s rank only lists him in North American skaters, so his overall position is probably close to the two 83s; Gadjovich will more than likely go somewhere in Round 3.
What Others Say About Jonah Gadjovich
Sticking with Elite Prospects first, we have a quick summary of Gadjovich’s game from Curtis Joe:
A feisty two-way winger that uses his size and speed to open up space for himself and teammates. Understands both sides of the puck well, and skates hard up and down the ice. Positionally sound and reads plays well. While not always the fastest player on the ice, his skating ability is noteworthy and he can catch the opposition off-guard on the rush. Not afraid to get into the mix, and will get under the skin of opponents. Definitely a team-first player that will find a way to make an impact for his line with each shift.
I like the team-first aspect that Jonah brings with his game, as well as the fact that he already does well with positioning and reading the play. The one knock on him appears to be his skating speed, but his effort level is always present. The effort of many current Devils was questioned this season, by us as well as team management; a player like Gadjovich could be not only a want, but a need for this team. The mention of opening up space for his teammates is another intangible that New Jersey could use more of; it would definitely help improve scoring.
The Draft Analyst has Gadjovich listed as one of their “10 Draft Prospects You Should Know About” and Steve Kournianos had the following to say:
Sturdy power winger with average speed but a willingness to take a beating while traversing direct routes to the net. Gadjovich’s stick is always in the right position and he makes a habit out of getting to the spot he wants and looking to tip shots home. His hands are quick enough to corral shots off the end boards and bring the puck on his stick for stuff-in attempts, and he’s quite difficult to move off the puck in one-on-one situations. His lack of speed makes him an easy target for a double team effort, but most of these attempts are futile. Gadjovich has been red hot of late, racking up points in 15 of his last 18 games, including three straight with two goals or more.
A fairly similar analysis of Gadjovich’s game, but a couple more specifics are discussed here, namely the ability (or lack thereof) to knock him off the pick and that double teams are ineffective. New Jersey had a lot of issues this season with puck control and even if Jonah isn’t a polished, NHL-ready product yet, he could bring some of the skills we need in the near future. The “double team is futile” narrative probably won’t be the same if he reaches the NHL; his skating is something that will need to be improved upon, lest he become another Reid Boucher.
A Little Video
There’s quite a bit of video on Gadjovich, and from the titles of most of them, he put up quite a few hat tricks for Owen Sound this past season. Here are four (count ‘em four) videos from different games where Jonah contributed a hat trick; first up is from January 7th against the Windsor Spitfires:
Next from January 11th against the Guelph Storm:
One month later in February against the Ottawa 67s:
And the last hat trick video comes from February 17th against the London Knights, however there’s an issue with embedding it; you can watch it here.
For a final piece of video, here’s another performance against the London Knights from January 28th where Gadjovich contributed 4 points:
An Opinion of Sorts
Gadjovich has an impressive offensive skill set and it seems like everything really came together for him this past year. He could bring some sorely needed vision and spacing to the team in the coming years as the Devils work their way back to relevancy. Jonah is strong on the puck, a hard worker, and smart with his positioning in all zones of the ice; all of those skills are a necessity to be successful in today’s NHL and they fit the Devils organization to a tee.
I think that there’s a good chance Gadjovich could be a solid prospect, but for me, he’s just not someone I would want to take a chance on. As mentioned at the start of this profile, left wing is currently a fairly strong position for the Devils, so if I’m Ray Shero, I’m trying to add to positions where the team is currently lacking. Additionally, while Boucher was not a Shero draft choice, he had one successful half season in New Jersey and two more teams later he’s still not an NHL regular. If Gadjovich struggles the similarly and can’t improve his skating, then he’s at best a career AHL player. If the team decides that his skating is improvable, then his offensive upside and creativity would make him a good fit for the Devs.
Jonah Gadjovich certainly has some interesting aspects to his game, but is still a pretty raw prospect; what do you think of him as a prospect? Would you like to see the Devils select him in Round 3? Are you concerned that his career would go the same way as Reid Boucher’s? Do you think he’s a fit for the Devils system? Leave any and all thoughts below and thank you as always for reading!