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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Gadjovich Ready for First Playoffs with the Florida Panthers

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Florida Panthers Jonah Gadjovich
Jonah Gadjovich smiles after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period of a 6-2 win on Jan. 24 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

FORT LAUDERDALE — When Jonah Gadjovich signed with the Florida Panthers, he was still working his way back from an injury sustained last season and agreed to a minor-league contract.

Today, Gadjovich not only is signed with the Panthers through 2026, but he is getting his first taste of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I’m excited about it. It’s been a long time,” Gadjovich said. “It’s my sixth-year pro , and I haven’t played in the playoffs yet, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gadjovich, 25, has never achieved the goal-scoring status he had as a junior, one which made him a second-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2017.

After bouncing around the minors for a few years before spending parts of three seasons with Vancouver and San Jose, he became another one of Florida GM Bill Zito’s under-the-radar signings.

Gadjovich, whose season in San Jose was cut short with a hand injury, originally signed a AHL contract.

But after working through his injury with the Panthers through training camp and into the regular season, Zito rewarded Gadjovich with an NHL one-way contract, assuring a degree of security.

Gadjovich was so impressive that he got a two-year contract extension.

“It’s Florida, baby!” Gadjovich said last month after signing his new deal.

“You can’t complain down here. It’s beautiful outside, we have an unreal team and I think the group that’s in here, everybody cares about everybody and we have a chance to do something special this year. It definitely makes me want to come back for more.”

Gadjovich’s role with the Panthers has been very well defined.

Along with the likes of Kevin Stenlund and Ryan Lomberg, he is a fourth-line defensive specialist who bangs and agitates as the need arises.

This is the role every team needs if it is to be successful in the playoffs.

Stenlund has been the one regular on the line, with Gadjovich, Lomberg, Steven Lorentz, and Kyle Okposo rotating in.

He is generally the first to help a teammate when retribution is required, which explains why he leads the team in penalty minutes by far even though he played in less than half the games.

According to hockeyfights.com, he dropped the gloves ten times this season in only 39 games.

Gadjovich now looks forward to his first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, even though his role is uncertain, given the Panthers’ current depth.

When healthy, he has been in the lineup more than out, but he has had to sit out quite a few games.

With the anticipated ruggedness of the playoffs, he should see plenty of action.

He is ready and anxious.

“The playoffs can be a lot of hard-nosed tight games so for me it’s just sticking to my job,” Gadjovich said. “Being good defensively, playing physical, trying to wear other teams down. Just doing whatever I can to contribute night in and night out.”

He has faced lineup uncertainty all season, so he is mentally well-prepared to be on call when needed.

“It’s the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality,” he said. “Sometimes guys are going to get banged up and you know you have to be ready because these games are important. You have to win every game so I have to be prepared if I get called on . It’s about staying ready whenever my name gets called.”

During the playoffs everyone has their eyes on the sharpshooters, but the warriors often play the critical role.

For The Best Coverage of the Florida Panthers Anywhere:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (WC1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1)
GAME 1
  • When: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • Local TV/National TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • First Round Schedule — Game 1: Sunday at Florida, 12:30 p.m. (BSF, ESPN); Game 2: Tuesday at Florida, 7:30 (BSF, ESPN2); Game 3: Thursday at Tampa Bay, 7 (BSF, TBS); Game 4: Saturday Ap. 27 at Tampa Bay, 5 (BSF, TBS, TruTV); Game 5*: Monday Ap. 29 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: Wednesday May 1 at Tampa Bay, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 7*: Saturday May 4 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA). (*) — If necessary
  • 2023-24 Regular Season Series (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (March 16).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 77-51-19, 10 ties
  • All-Time Postgame Series: Lightning Leads 2-0 (2021 first-round, 2022 ECS)

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