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Canucks sign 55th overall pick Jonah Gadjovich to an entry-level contract

He may look like a grizzled veteran already, but Jonah Gadjovich just turned 19 last week.
Jonah Gadjovich for the Owen Sound Attack

He may look like a grizzled veteran already, but Jonah Gadjovich just turned 19 last week. The 55th-overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft is off to a strong start in his fourth OHL season and the Canucks have apparently seen enough to get him inked to his first professional contract.

The sizeable left-winger signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Canucks on Monday. Financial details were not released, but the average annual value of an entry-level contract is limited to $925,000, with a maximum of $2,850,000 in performance bonuses. Gadjovich isn’t in the top tier of prospects, so it’s unlikely his deal reaches those heights.

The timing of the contract is noteworthy: the Canucks could have waited until next off-season to sign Gadjovich, but by signing him now, he’s considered to be “18” for purposes of the CBA. Despite turning 19 four days before signing his contract, the CBA defines him as 18: the age he was prior to September 15th.

In addition, if the Canucks waited until next off-season, Gadjovich would be considered 20 when he signs for some purposes of the CBA, as the age is then defined by the calendar year. Clear as mud?

Here’s the applicable section from the CBA on waiver eligibility:

For purposes of this Article, "age 18" means a Player reaching his eighteenth birthday between January 1 next preceding the Entry Draft and September 15 next following the Entry Draft, both dates included; "age 19" means a Player reaching his nineteenth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; "age 20" means a Player reaching his twentieth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; and "age 21" means a Player reaching his twenty-first birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft.

What does this mean for the Canucks? As I understand it, this buys the Canucks another year of waiver eligibility for Gadjovich in the future. A player signed at 18 has five years of waiver-exempt status; a played signed at 20 has three years of waiver-exempt status. Assuming this current season counts as one of those waiver-exempt seasons, that still gives the Canucks four more years with Gadjovich exempt from waivers instead of three.

That means Kole Lind, who turned 19 today, October 16th, will also need to be signed this calendar year if they want the same benefits for him.

Did your eyes glaze over? The NHL CBA has that effect on a lot of people. Let’s get back to Gadjovich.

Gadjovich was a standout at the annual Young Stars tournament, leading the Canucks in scoring with 2 goals and 4 points in 3 games. This came after a great summer where he made a strong case for making Team Canada’s World Junior squad.

While he was less noticeable during his one preseason game, Gadjovich still left Canucks training camp with a lot of new fans. The way he combines his size and strength with finish and skill had a lot of Canucks fans hoping to see him in the lineup as soon as possible.

In the OHL, Gadjovich picked up right where he left off, putting up 5 goals and 8 points in his first 5 games. He’s slowed down in his last 3 games with just 1 point, but is still firing shots on goal at an elite rate: his 4.38 shots-per-game leads the powerhouse Owen Sound Attack and is 12th in the OHL.

Another 40-goal season seems within reach for Gadjovich, but some caution is advised when getting excited about his numbers. He is getting ice time with Nick Suzuki, an elite prospect for the Vegas Golden Knights. Suzuki has an absurd 7 goals and 18 points in 9 games for the Attack.

That said, a skilled forward like Suzuki benefits from a net-front presence and finisher like Gadjovich as well.



Gadjovich is the first of the Canucks’ 2017 draft picks to get signed.