Welcome to the 2021 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1997. Seven staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, Kent Basky, CanucksAbbyFan2, Markus Meyer, Noah Strang, Harsunder Singh H) and two outside writers (Daniel Gee & Cam Robinson) cast votes for the project.
Let’s start with the good.
After two seasons where Jonah Gadjovich posted middling numbers in the AHL, he broke out as their leading offensive player in Year Three.
The burly winger scored a whopping 15 times in 19 AHL games, which was more than double the next leading goal scorers (Nolan Stevens and John Stevens both scored six times).
That production put Gadjovich back on the radar as a prospect with legitimate NHL aspirations, a far cry from where he was a year ago. That’s evident by the fact that on our list, Gadjovich was one of three players (along with Victor Persson and Arturs Silovs) to jump up the rankings by at least 10 spots.
Despite all the improvement, the 22-year-old’s NHL future is still murky,
Gadjovich was called up for one NHL game last year. He only played a shade under five minutes after a brutal giveaway led directly to a Calgary Flames goal.
Now, the Canucks surely can’t condemn Gadjovich’s future off of one play. However, the knock on the physical winger has always been his lack of foot speed.
In the department, however, the AHL goal-scoring phenom seems to be improving.
“The Canucks have given me a lot of resources,” Gadjovich recently told the media. “I spent a lot of time with Mackenzie Braid skating in Toronto. I was just working on my stride, working on my quickness and, you know, I think it’s come a long way and it’s something I’m going to continue to work on.”
So far in training camp and preseason action, Gadjovich has looked impressive, scoring a goal during scrimmage action and setting up another in the second game of the preseason.
Did a breakdown of Gadjovich's stride (& game) last season for @EPRinkside. The improvements were notable between his first AHL season and last years shortened campaign. It appears to better this season. More explosive.— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) September 28, 2021
90-degree knees, ankle flexion improved, snappier recoveries https://t.co/uWZ7DMNEiC
Gadjovich stood out in that tilt against Calgary while playing on a line with Will Lockwood, who was one of his most common linemates last season. However, the fact that he didn’t receive any time on the second power play unit during preseason action shows that he’s still behind a number of skaters when it comes to snagging a roster spot.
What’s Next for Gadjovich?
While Gadjovich is a long shot to begin the season in Vancouver, the goal for him in 2021-22 should be to play for more than four minutes and 55 seconds in the NHL.
There’s plenty of reason for Gadjovich to be hopeful. He’s already been one of the standout depth players for the Canucks at training camp. Travis Green also noted that Gadjovich “looked quicker” in his post-game press conference following the victory against Calgary.
This season is quietly vital for Gadjovich’s NHL future. He will be 23 by the time the season begins, he’s waiver-eligible, and he’s on the last year of his entry-level deal. A strong performance from Gadjovich — whether that’s dominating in the AHL or getting a run of action in the NHL — will determine whether he gets a raise on his next contract...and whether that contract is with the Canucks.