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Gadjovich: “I’m a Power Forward”

When you think about the Canucks of the last decade, you think of a skilled team who’s game is built on offensive zone time and puck possession. It wasn’t always that way, though. During the West Coast Express era of Canucks hockey, they had serious snarl.

For ten-plus years the Canucks have been trying to bring back an element of power to this team that left with Todd Bertuzzi in 2006. Zack Kassian struggled to play from the all-time great Canucks’ shadow. David Booth didn’t even bother. Their latest entrant, Jake Virtanen, seems more suited to Raffi Tores’ game than Bertuzzi’s.

In 55th overall selection Jonah Gadjovich, there’s hope. The Canucks’ draft pick, currently playing with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL enters the NHL with a reputation as a bruising winger with a fierce net-drive and the gumption to take ownership of that ice when he arrives.

“I’m a power forward” Gadjovich said without a moment’s hesitation. “I love being in the corners and I’m heavy on pucks, and I make a living in front of the net – that’s what I’m going to do.”

And what a living Gadjovich has made for himself in the OHL taking away goaltenders space. The power winger is seventh in the OHL by five-on-five goals with 28 and third among first-time draft eligible forwards. Most of them come within ten feet of the opposition net.

Gadjovich knows that he’s going to need to play a 200-foot game though if he’s going to make the NHL. You can’t get the ice-time to score if your coach doesn’t trust you. The Attack controlled 69% of the goals scored at even strength with Gadjovich on the ice last season. Still, the power winger sees room to grow.

“To be at the next level you can’t just be offensively minded or even defensively minded.” Gadjovich told Canucks Army. “I think you have to have that all around game. That’s something I’m going to continue to work on.”

The coaching staff deserves a lot of credit in that regard. Gadjovich had every opportunity to grow with the Attack this season, playing first line minutes at even strength and seeing the ice on both phases of special teams.

“I was given more responsibility” Gadjovich said. “I was killing penalties; I was in the offensive zone and I was defensively responsible. I think that’s a direct representation of our team and our coaching staff, and everything just coming together.”

“[Attack head coach Ryan McGill] put in the time [and] effort just as well as I did” Gadjovich continued. “He would spend hours going over video with me and whatever I needed he was there to do it. I would definitely thank him – he was a big part of our team success.”

It’s not often a power forward goes at great length to describe their growth as a complete player. Their job is to score goals and cause general mayhem — sometimes the two go hand in hand. It started to make sense when he described the player whose style Gadjovich emulates.

“Someone that I’ve always admired was David Backes” Gadjovich said. “He’s got a good shot. He’s heavy on pucks. He’s someone that I’ve always respected. He’s got great character and leadership. That’s someone I try to model my game after.”

It’s not Bertuzzi, but I think Canucks fans would be all too happy to settle for a player of Backes’ calibre. If Gadjovich has his way, it won’t be a long wait either.

  • Whatthe...

    CanucksArmy and Pass it to Bulis have both been pretty positive when analyzing the 2017 draft picks. Hopefully that is a sign that the stars are aligning for the Canucks – Benning and analytics combined to make a better future for all.

  • Jabs

    Probably my favorite pick of the draft. He isn’t the best player the Canucks picked but he could be the most interesting and entertaining.

    Great article, I miss the snarl of teams past and would like to see some movement back to that while balancing snarl with skill.

    • TrueBlue

      Yeah, agreed. Pettersson is great and Lind is a nice 2nd round find, but there’s something about getting Gadjovich at 55 that has a nice feel to it. He has the same look about him that Ekblad did when he was drafted.. a man-sized beast with a calm, cool demeanor.

      You expect a guy like Gadjovich who’s available at 55 to be a physical presence with limited offensive potential, but he’s got a lot of upside. If he improves his skating (and his combine results show he’s no stranger to working out), he could develop into a heckuva player. Let’s hope we’re capitalizing on a little “bigger-player backlash” here!

  • Steamer

    Love Gadjovic – liked the CA rank. Character & maturity, speaks with the self assuredness of someone older – reminds me of Horvat in that regard. Needs to improve foot-speed, but lethal from 10-12 feet, elite hand-eye allows him to get his stick on point shots for deflections & is a handful on the lip of the crease. A heavy o-zone player, much like Vilardi, without Vilard’s stickhandling prowess. Would have been nice dept: Liljegren – can’t believe he fell, he’ll light it up – Heponiemi, Brannstromm. Thanks for all the hard work with both profiles & draft itself CA!

  • Frank

    This guy sounds like a perfect complement to the other young prospects we’re adding to the fold. Assuming Jake develops, we’ve got two wingers with skill, size and a bit of snarl.

  • Tedchinook

    Good article and this kid is very intriguing. The only thing I didn’t like is comparing Virtanen to Raffi Torres. The jury may be still be out on Jake, but nowhere have I seen him said to be a cheap shot.

  • canuckfan

    you can still be a power forward without taking penalties this just means that he doesn’t have to hook to back check, or doesn’t need to hold to stop someone from getting a step on him. Most forwards who are slow are getting a lot of hooking penalties as that is their way of back checking. The Sedins as they get older are being busted for hooking more and more kind of a sign the aren’t fast enough to catch the other team.