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Preview/Lines #56: Gadjovich Hoping to Repeat OHL, AHL Development Path with Sharks

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Credit: AP Photo/John McCoy

It’s no secret that with every loss that the San Jose Sharks rack up, the more goal-scoring is becoming a sore point. And, with as many younger players in the lineup to help provide some offense on all four lines, the expectation to earn some points grows day by day. One such young player is Jonah Gadjovich. 

Head coach Bob Boughner knows what kind of player Gadjovich is, and what he can be at the NHL level, and from his perspective, Gadjovich knows his potential too. 

“He’s a guy that scored a lot in juniors. He was a World Junior player, drafted as a second-round pick. And there’s a lot of guys that were offensive players that [now] have to figure out what kind of player they’re going to be at the NHL level – not everybody can be a top-six guy,” Boughner offered. “I think he’s done a really good job of trying to be a straight-line player here. He’s a responsible guy who adds that physicalness to our lineup. He knows he has to provide that in order to stay at this level.”

Despite Gadjovich’s scoring struggles at the NHL level compared to his OHL and AHL experience, Boughner still sees his offensive upside developing. 

“He’s one of those guys who every game gets a chance, which is good,” he said, “the more he plays, the more confidence he gets, and he’s a big guy, [he’s] tough to move out of the way, and that’s how he’s going to score in this league.”

Gadjovich knows what it feels like to score goals. His final two years in the OHL for the Owen Sound Attack saw jaw-dropping point totals. In the 2016/17 season, Gadjovich had 74 points (46 goals, 28 assists) in 60 games. The next season, 2017/28, Gadjovich had 48 points (25 goals, 23 assists) in 42 games. 

After juniors, Gadjovich spent three seasons within the Canucks organization, playing for their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets (barring a singular NHL appearance), and prior to making his way to the San Jose Sharks organization, Gadjovich earned 18 points (15 goals, 3 assists) in 19 games. 

Needless to say, the expectations for himself may have been high, but as the saying goes, a big fish in a small pond looks different than a small fish in a big pond. There is, of course, the requisite adjustment period every young player goes through as they begin their first real season in the NHL, and it’s clear that given Gadjovich’s past history, his point ceiling is much higher than what he’s on pace for this season. 

Thus far, Gadjovich has a total of three points (one goal, two assists) in 30 games. But for what it’s worth, his first year in the OHL, he had just four goals, and his first year in the AHL, he had just four goals.

It’s a matter of confidence, practice, and knowing what kind of player you are in this new environment. 

“I’m a guy that works hard. I show up every day and I’m just going to continue to get better and continue to work on my game. And obviously, that’s the trajectory that I hope for myself,” Gadjovich said. “Every day I’m working with the staff and trying to improve my game, and hopefully, that’ll improve my point production.”

When it comes to finding his groove with the points, Gadjovich has a pretty clear idea of what that looks like: “I think [being] better at holding onto pucks in the offensive zone. Getting my feet moving and puck protection – just playing with a bit of confidence. Obviously being in and out of the lineup, sometimes I just try to keep it simple, but if I can, maybe have a bit more confidence with the puck and get to the net. [And then] good things are going to happen.”

When it comes to the transition between leagues and what that has meant for his development as a player, Gadjovich had a fair bit of insight to offer. 

“My first two years in the OHL, I was on the fourth line. And then obviously, when I worked my way up to the AHL, my first two years I was fourth line, like regular, didn’t-get-off the fourth line, and then I started playing third maybe second [line] last year in the AHL. So this year, I’m used to playing the fourth line,” he reflected. “I know what’s expected of me and I know my role and I know what I’m good at. So I just try to play my game, and not overcomplicate it, and as I said, I’ll continue to work on it and keep improving and add elements to my game so that it makes me a more valuable player at the NHL level.

“It’s such a fast-paced game, but you have to get the puck under control. You can’t overstate it, you can’t do certain things. So it’s about [being] fast and smooth. That’s kind of the mentality I’m looking at.”

Gadjovich can draw back on his growth in the OHL and the AHL as a sign of good things to come in the NHL.

“My first year in the OHL, I thought it was so fast and maybe I struggled to keep up, but then I figured out what I had to work on and I worked on it and I came back and the game slowed down a little bit, I had a bit more confidence, I was maybe a little stronger, a little faster, and then, the next year, better,” he said. “So hopefully here I can just continue to work on my game and build more confidence and keep improving.”

San Jose Sharks (24-25-6)

After a stunning loss to the Nashville Predators which ended in eight unanswered goals, the Sharks have to have short memories for their back-to-back tilt against the Ducks. 

These are how the lines shook out per last game, but they are subject to change ahead of puck drop. Zach Sawchenko should draw the start tomorrow night:

Anaheim Ducks (26-22-9)

The Ducks are looking to make up for lost time as the race for the playoffs (and a wild card spot) heats up, but they currently lie just one spot in the Pacific Division above the Sharks.

Per Daily Faceoff, this is how the Ducks’ lines may stack up against the Sharks. 

Henrique – Getzlaf – Terry 

Milano – Zegras – Rakell 

Steel – Lundestrom – Silfverberg

Deslauriers – Carrick – Grant

Lindholm – Drysdale

Guhle – Fowler

Benoit – Shattenkirk

Gibson, Stolarz

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks is at 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET at the Honda Center. Watch it live on ESPN+, Bally Sports West, and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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