The San Jose Sharks have thrown a wrench into our expectations of their opening night roster.
It’s a good-sized wrench too — they’ve claimed 6-foot-2 winger Jonah Gadjovich off waivers.
Gadjovich was a Vancouver Canucks’ 2017 second-round pick. Last season, he made his NHL debut and scored 15 goals in 19 AHL games. He also won a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championships.
“Jonah is a proven goal scorer at every level he has competed in during his junior and professional career,” Doug Wilson said in a press release. “He is a skater who can use his size to his advantage.”
For the big man, skating has been the knock on him throughout his career, but from what I understand, he dropped 10 pounds over the summer and looked noticeably quicker in camp.
“Worry about his pace, but I like him. Big, strong, physical, and tough. Real good net front presence where he scores his goals,” an NHL scout told me. “Second PP net front guy. Similar mold to [Patrick] Maroon.”
Speak of the devil, the San Jose Sharks probably could use another solid net front presence on their power play. Nick Bonino is ticketed for net front on one PP unit, and I believe they’ll start the season with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl in the high slot. They’ve tried Jasper Weatherby, and today, Lane Pederson net front on the man advantage, but Gadjovich may be more of a natural for that role — which also keeps Hertl in his accustomed “bumper” spot on the power play. Timo Meier, William Eklund, Kevin Labanc, Alexander Barabanov, and Rudolfs Balcers are probably best suited to play the flanks on the man advantage.
Bob Boughner agreed: “He definitely adds that element to our team that we need.”
Gadjovich looks very much like a contender to break camp with the San Jose Sharks. He certainly offers a different, dirtier skill-set than playmakers like Jonathan Dahlen and Eklund, to name just a couple of young forwards who might be competing for Gadjovich for playing time on a scoring line.
Of course, the San Jose Sharks aren’t likely to have stumbled on the mother lode with Gadjovich — there’s a reason why Vancouver waived him. But same preseason time last year, the Sharks unearthed a waiver gem in Rudolfs Balcers.
“He might not be an everyday player right now,” the scout said, “but I think he has a chance at becoming one.”
Raska Sent Down
Claiming Gadjovich takes away from the roster clarity that we thought we had when the San Jose Sharks sent winger Adam Raska to the AHL earlier this morning.
The 2020 seventh-round pick was perhaps the biggest surprise of training camp, showing a persistent peskiness in his game.
“He did everything. He had a great camp. We didn’t send him down because he was missing anything,” Boughner said. “With him, it’s just a young guy, it’s his first-year pro, and I think playing in the American League is a valuable experience for those guys.
Raska, by all accounts, will be in the NHL sooner than later.
The San Jose Sharks currently have 17 forwards on their training camp roster:
• Rudolfs Balcers
• Alexander Barabanov
• Nick Bonino
• Andrew Cogliano
• Logan Couture
• Jonathan Dahlen
• William Eklund
• Jonah Gadjovich
• Dylan Gambrell
• Tomas Hertl
• Evander Kane
• Kevin Labanc
• Timo Meier
• Matt Nieto
• Lane Pederson
• Jeffrey Viel
• Jasper Weatherby
The Sharks are expected to carry 14 forwards to start the season. My guess is that Evander Kane will not be one of the 14. Kane is currently under investigation for sexual assault, domestic battery, and COVID protocol violations.
Rudolfs Balcers, Alexander Barabanov, Nick Bonino, Andrew Cogliano, Logan Couture, William Eklund, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and Matt Nieto should be safe — that leaves six forwards, Jonathan Dahlen, Jonah Gadjovich, Dylan Gambrell, Lane Pederson, Jeffrey Viel, and Jasper Weatherby vying for four spots.
Both Viel and Weatherby are waiver-exempt. Dahlen, Gadjovich, Gambrell, and Pederson are not.
That might make the San Jose Sharks’ choice easy — or you can keep Weatherby up, and expose centers Gambrell or Pederson, who duplicate each other to some degree positionally.
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