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How Has Jonah Gadjovich Fit in with the Florida Panthers? Perfectly

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Florida Panthers Jonah Gadjovich
Jonah Gadjovich celebrates a goal despite hitting the ice in a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-200

FORT LAUDERDALE — When the Florida Panthers took a flier on Jonah Gadjovich on an AHL contract this summer, they did not expect things to pan out this well.

Gadjovich signed that contract in July while recovering from what was believed to be a hand injury, which ended his 2022-23 season in February.

A year removed from being hurt, Gadjovich has carved out a role for himself in South Florida with the Panthers.

“It has been great,” Gadjovich told FHN. “It’s a fun team to play with here, and it’s exciting. But I’m trying to keep it simple and take it day by day.”

How did the 6-foot-2 grinder, who had played just 79 NHL games through the first three seasons of his career, earn himself a spot on one of the best teams in the league?

“He doesn’t make technical mistakes on the ice,” coach Paul Maurice said. “And if he does, he knows it on the way off the ice. He is already looking at the coach, going, ‘Yeah, that was me. I missed that.’

The combination of physicality, hard forechecking, and attention to detail Gadjovich brought made him a perfect fit for Maurice’s system, even if it was different from the style he was playing the past two seasons with the San Jose Sharks.

From the moment he made his Panthers debut on Nov. 17 — after two months of rehabbing his injury — it was apparent he was a fit.

Jonah Gadjovich Fitting In Quite Nicely with the Florida Panthers

“This was thought to be a longer-term project because of the injury that he was coming off, and while he can skate with it, we run quite a different style of hockey and systems than San Jose that he would have been used to and experienced,” Maurice said.

“There would have been a long learning curve that he was going to go through, and then he got lucky; he truly did.”

To that point, Maurice had been looking for consistent linemates for Kevin Stenlund on the fourth line but needed help finding a permanent answer.

Since that day, barring injuries or a mid-game mix-up to boost momentum, Gadjovich and Ryan Lomberg have remained on Stenund’s flanks.

“They’re great skaters, they bodycheck a lot of guys, and they forecheck really well,” Stenlund said. “It makes it easy for me just to read off them. Our line has been really good and playing with them is fun.”

Playing for a team as hard on the forecheck and physical as the Panthers offense means many fights and skirmishes break out, and he has been a go-to guy for them in those situations.

“For a physical role player, he is exceptionally clean,” Maurice said. “Both hands on the ice, he hits hard, but he gets low, he’s a very, very clean player, and he’s willing. And that makes everybody else relax.

“We play an aggressive, physical style, and sometimes our games get heated. A lot of times, it’s not us, right? But we’re going to come out, we’re going to finish our checks, and they know it going out, so they get wired up for that kind of game, and it gets hot. And it’s good to have Gadjovich there because he can handle it.”

That clean, responsible element to that game has allowed the Panthers to trust him enough to play him and his line 10-plus minutes a game to take the weight off of their stars.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to do anything stupid out there or something that’s going to hurt the team,” Gadjovich said. “I just have to try to be smart and read the game, then see what’s necessary.”

And, at times, his line has done its job well.

Gadjovich has two goals and four points through 31 games this season, and the rest of his line is not lighting up the scoresheet by any means, but they do an excellent job of pressuring the other team and keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

In a game where Maurice matched his line up with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals’ top line, it shut it down completely.

The Panthers get results like that from Gadjovich and his line day in and day out.

“I love playing with Stenny and Lombo out there, and I think we’ve been doing a good job at trying to do our jobs and being consistent,” Gadjovich said. 

“I think in order to win in this league and go far in the playoffs, you need to have four liens that can play, and for us, we’re trying to play our role.”

ON DECK

MONTREAL CANADIENS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 4-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Montreal: Panthers 5, Canadiens 1 (Nov. 30). At Florida: Panthers 4, Canadiens 1 (Dec. 30); Thursday
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 57-38-11, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Detroit, 3 p.m. (ABC)

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