Clocking in at #40 on our consensus ranking is gritty power winger Jonah Gadjovich. Gadjovich has flown under the radar this season, despite finishing first in goals among draft-eligible players in the OHL. For some reason, most publications have Gadjovich ranked as a second or third-round pick, which is odd given his projectable 6’3″ frame and willingness to play a physical game.
- Age: 18 – October 12th, 1998
- Birthplace: Whitby, ON, CAN
- Frame: 6’2″ / 201 lbs
- Position: LW
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Owen Sound Attack (WHL)
Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects:
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.
Steve Kourianos, The Draft Analyst:
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.
When you look at Jonah Gadjovich’s stat line, there’s one question that immediately comes to mind: How is a 6’3″ power winger who scored 46 goals and looks to have about a 50/50 shot of making the NHL by pGPS get ranked 39th among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting?
The answer lies, as it usually does, with the overvaluation of a single input. The biggest knock on Gadjovich is his skating. His technique is good, but he just isn’t particularly fast, struggling at times to lug his over 200-pound frame up the ice. To his credit, however, it hasn’t hindered his ability to produce, as he formed one of the OHL’s best scoring duos alongside fellow draft-eligible forward Nick Suzuki. Suzuki was arguably the OHL’s best draft eligible player this season, and the Attack were a stacked team in 2016-17, especially offensively. But the deeper you dig into Gadjovich’s season the more he looks like the real deal.
Gadjovich was one of the OHL’s best volume shooters this season, finishing with 275 shots in 60 games, a rate of over four and a half shots per game, which was good enough to lead his team, and second among all draft-eligible OHL forwards, behind only Owen Tippett. The biggest concern with a player like Gadjovich who scores a lot of goals on a strong team is that his numbers are percentage-driven, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. Gadjovich was able to get his shot off a lot this season, and as you’d expect, the goals came. But not any more that they ought to have based on his shot rate.
Outside of his slow foot-speed, there’s very little not to like about Gadjovich’s game. He’s not exactly much of a playmaker, but he also didn’t need to be given the Attack’s roster. He’s often described as a two-way winger, who despite lacking in acceleration works tirelessly to get back when the puck is going the other way. He doesn’t have the release or power in his shot that Tippett has, but his accuracy is good, as is his vision. Gadjovich’s best work, however, is done in and around the net, working to get deflections and rebounds and using his size to his advantage. He’s mean, too. Not in an over-the-top, reckless way, but he’s certainly not afraid to grind away in the corners or drop the gloves if the mood strikes.
There’s always a certain amount of risk associated with selecting a larger forward who isn’t the fastest skater, but Gadjovich appears to be well worth the gamble. In terms of how he skates- stride, lateral movement, technique- there’s no real issue. He just needs to get faster. That may seem counter-intuitive, but they are two different things. With the right skating coach, it’s easy to Gadjovich improving his speed to the level where it won’t present any issues in pro hockey.
Gadjovich’s entire statistical profile suggests someone worthy of a first-round pick, so even if a team has concerns about his skating or the possibility of inflated production, he’s going to be a fantastic bet to make in the second or third round. pGPS pegs Gadjovich’s likely career assignment as a middle-six forward, with an expected success percentage of 51.9%, but there’s enough upside to indicate the transformation into a first-line winger isn’t out of the question. One of his closest statistical matches is Jeff Carter, which is likely the best case scenario for Gadjovich, production-wise. There’s a wide range of outcomes, however, with many of Gadjovich’s statistical matches carving out careers as depth players or never cracking an NHL roster at all. Still, he’s going to have much more upside and much less risk than your average mid-round pick, so whichever team ends up selecting him outside the first round is in a prime position to get one of the steals of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.