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Gadjovich Was Claimed, But Does it Matter?

Trent Leith / October 9, 2021  

Well, we’re back to normal folks. There was a brief moment where almost all of the Canucks fandom had come together and rejoiced at the new signings of superstars Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. But that was quickly brushed aside and the market was quickly divided once again. The catalyst? Jonah Gadjovich. 

On Wednesday the Canucks placed Gadjovich on waivers in hopes to slip him down to the AHL, but the San Jose Sharks had different plans. It was announced Thursday that Gadjovich would be dawning the infamous teal of the other aquatic predator-themed team down south. 

Gadjovich’s Time With The Canucks Organization

Jonah Gadjovich was drafted in the second round (55th overall) of the 2017 NHL entry draft and has since spent most of the time playing in the AHL with the now-defunct Utica Comets.

Jonah only ever got to play one regular-season NHL game with the Vancouver Canucks with only 5 minutes of ice time. Gadjovich didn’t manage to hit the score sheet other than a -1 and 17 PIMs after a fight. 

In Utica however, he got much more of a shot. In the last season with the Comets, he scored 15 goals, 18 points in 19 games. Even though the top-end AHL talent was on taxis taxi squads through the 2020-21 season, it’s still hard to expect someone who scored it that case last season to sneak through waivers. 

Criticism of the Loss

There is a lot to not like about the Canucks losing another prospect in an already shallow prospect pool. With Kole Kind being selected by the Seattle Kraken earlier this summer and now Gadjovich being taken by the Sharks, the Canucks have lost both their second-round draft picks from 2017 for nothing, causing many to criticize the team’s asset management. 

The 22-year-old was not able to crack the Canucks lineup in the few years with the organization largely in part due to his lack of foot speed. Despite coming to camp faster and more nimble on his feet in this year’s camp, he was amongst the cuts in the hunt for a bottom-six this season

“I thought he worked hard on his skating last summer,” head coach Travis Green told the media, “I think he still has to work on that, but you can say that about a bunch of guys” 

It’s hard to rationalize the fact that Green is outwardly saying Gadjovich is improving where he needs to, but still not getting a meaningful chance in the lineup. Players in years past, like Jake Virtanen had an agonizingly long leash, even after routinely coming to camp out of shape. In contrast to a developing player like Gadjovich who is always addressing his shortcomings and is sent to the minors and eventually claimed. 

The Logic of the Loss

The thing about Gadjovich being taken is that he was not going to make the roster either way. There is a log jam of bottom-six wingers all competing for a spot, some more skilled, some faster skaters. What Green was seeing in Gadjovich, was better than previous years, it was also clearly not enough to keep him around. Green did say in the media that he intended to call Gadjovich up later in the season, but he didn’t make that cut out of the gate. 

Gadjovich’s skating still needs work at the NHL level, he didn’t kill penalties, and while he scored in the previous season, he wasn’t lighting the lamp regularly prior. It’s not a stretch to believe that he was going to wind up in the AHL, if not this week, it would be sooner than later. The Canucks were going to lose him unless he became a regular in the team’s lineup, and that was becoming increasingly less likely. You could argue that a trade should have been made, and maybe it was attempted. But the fact of the matter is, if he was picked up this week, he would’ve been next week too, It’s hard to slip a player like Gadjovich through waivers at any time. 

Does This Hurt the Canucks

No. Not really anyways. Anytime you lose a depth forward it stings, but Gadjovich was never trending to be anything outside a depth player. It’s not as if the Canucks just mishandled the next coming of Nils Höglander. What’s more likely they just lost the next Zach MacEwan, or Mathew Highmore, or Nic Petan, or Phil Di Giuseppe, or Will Lockwood or… you get the point. 

Jonah Gadjovich has a better opportunity to be a regular NHL player in San Jose than he does in Vancouver and it will be a great opportunity for him to prove the Canucks wrong. But for now, it sucks that the other kid at the playground took your toy, but you didn’t really play with it anyways.