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Jonah Gadjovich Happy to be With Florida Panthers for Two More Years

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Florida Panthers Gadjovich
Florida Panthers tough guy Jonah Gadjovich is back with the team for another two years thanks to a contract extension inked last week. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

FORT LAUDERDALE — For Jonah Gadjovich, re-signing with the Florida Panthers for a new two-year, $1.5 million contract extension was a pretty easy decision.

“It’s Florida, baby!” he said with a smile.

“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.”

The opportunity to be a part of it to begin with was not guaranteed for Gadjovich.

He was brought in on an AHL deal after his 2022-23 season was ended with a hand injury last February.

But Gadjovich worked hard, rehabbed the injury throughout training camp and eventually earned himself a shot on the roster in mid-November.

“Obviously, in this industry, you have to earn your next contract, you have to earn your ice time and you have to earn everything you get,” Gadjovich told FHN.

“So for me, coming in here, it was about doing what I can to contribute and show up every day, and it ended up working out.”

His hard work paid off quickly, seemingly giving him a permanent spot on the fourth line before the Panthers made some additions at the trade deadline last week.

“He sets a really good example for your entire group,” coach Paul Maurice said. “It was a tough injury that he went through, it was a painful rehab that he went through, he got sick, then he battled back, and then in his last stretch of games, he’s been very, very strong.

“So he’s part of that group now. He worked hard to become part of the family, and you can tell. He is not the new guy trying to figure out where to fit in. Everybody was chirping him for a bit when he was playing defense for a few shifts and he’s got a big smile on his face and he is a part of it.”

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

That big smile on his face remained even after newcomers Kyle Okposo and Vladimir Tarasenko pushed him out of the everyday rotation.

After all, his style of game is going to be needed in the playoffs at some point.

While the 6-foot-2, 209-pound forward has just two goals and four points in 34 games, he has been a big, physical presence who steps up for his teammates on a day-to-day basis.

“Some players have different roles, right?” general manager Bill Zito said. “So, in a band, the drummer may not be the singer, but he’s the drummer. And so you do your job as the drummer.

“That’s what Gadjovich does so well. He became a teammate and all he does is contribute and try to help in every single way he can.”

In the playoffs, the Panthers are very likely going to need to call his number at some point.

When things get chippy, the big bruiser often calms things down.

After all, opponents know he is willing to get into a fight and he has won his fair share of them this season.

And he still plays a clean, yet hard-checking style of hockey when he decides to keep his gloves on, too.

“For a physical role player, he is exceptionally clean,” Maurice said of Gadjovich last month. “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.”

With the Panthers sitting atop the NHL at 45-18-4, Gadjovich is excited to be a part of it for the next two years.

“It’s awesome, man,” he said. “I’m just so grateful to be part of this group and organization. We get to come to work every day and have a lot of fun.

“I’m just grateful.”

ON DECK

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • Streaming ONLY: ESPN+/Hulu
  • 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
  • Season Series (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Saturday.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 77-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday vs. Nashville, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

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