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Canucks prospects tracker: Gadjovich grows with the Comets

It’s the latest edition of the weekly tracker, where we tally up the efforts of the Vancouver Canucks’ highest-profile prospects:


Utica Comets forward Jonah Gadjovich (left) celebrates after scoring a goal on Wednesday.

Lindsay Mogle /

Utica Comets

Jonah Gadjovich

They called him the “Man Child” during his days in junior.

Now in his rookie season in the AHL, Gadjovich finds himself playing in a grown man’s game — and is finally seeing growth in his own game at the professional level.

This past week, the big winger showed the Utica Comets’ coaching staff that he’s turning the corner.

Gadjovich was named the second star in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the Laval Rocket, tipping in a goal to open the scoring and closing the game with a spirited fight that sparked joy in the Utica crowd.

Big Jonah’s goal was a classic case of getting to the net and putting your stick on the ice. It’s also the kind of goal that will help cement his place in a lineup that he’s often been left off.

Gadjovich also dropped the gloves with about a minute left in the game, feeding his Rocket adversary with fists of fury while ‘Sweet Caroline’ bellowed out of the loudspeakers.

Gadjovich nearly scored again in the third period and finished the night a plus-2 with two shots on net.

After the game — his most effective of the season — Gadjovich told the Utica Observer-Dispatch that he’s finally feeling good about his level of play.

“This is my game. I feel like I’m just kinda coming into my own, trying to build my game here at the pro level.”

Gadjovich has also been getting some power play time as the net-front presence while another big Utica winger, Zack MacEwen, plays for the Canucks in a call-up situation.

Comets coach Trent Cull was quick to point out the progress Gadjovich has made.

“I think Jonah is doing whatever he can to stay in the lineup and send a message to me or the team,” Cull said post game. “I love his play. I think he’s doing a really good job. He’s working on the details of his game and … it’s great when a player goes in there and defends his teammates. I was super impressed with Jonah tonight. Just a great job.”

Gadjovich’s knuckles were notably banged up after the game. He didn’t produce a point in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and didn’t dress for Sunday’s 5-4 comeback win against the Cleveland Monsters, but expect bigger things from the Canucks’ 2017 2nd-rounder as the Comets’ season enters the stretch drive.

Gadjovich, 20, has two goals, five assists and a minus-4 rating through 30 games this season. The Comets are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games and are now in third place in the North Division with a 29-19-4-2 record.

Quinn Hughes

Start counting down the days.

With only four games left in Michigan’s NCAA season and an outside chance a deep playoff run, Hughes will most likely be playing for the Canucks before the end of March.

And the next great hope on the Vancouver blue-line can’t wait to hook up with his future teammates, he said in an interview with Sports Illustrated this past week.

“I’ll just do what I’m good at and hopefully that helps all of them out. I’m sure they’ll make me a better player, too, because I know how skilled and smart they are,” he said. “Hopefully we can just complement each other.”

Hughes, whose Wolverines lost their only game this past week, a 5-2 defeat at 15th-ranked Notre Dame, has already matched his output of 29 points from last season. He didn’t factor into the scoring in Tuesday’s loss, but had five shots on net and finished the game a plus-1.

He also had a moment of frustration late in the game after taking a series of whacks by former teammate Graham Slaggert. Hughes went coast-to-coast on the play and tried to dish the puck to the front of the net as Slaggert gave him the business with his stick. Hughes had enough, turning to Slaggert and cross-checking the Fighting Irish player, breaking his own stick over him in the process.

Hughes’ college coach, Mel Pearson, praised his tenacity and work ethic in the SI interview, saying the standout seventh-overall pick is poised to succeed at the NHL level.

“Every time he steps out on the ice he wants to be the best player and to win. His competitive spirit, I don’t know if it’s his best attribute, but it’s such an important part of his game,” Pearson said. “He’s got some God-given skills, there’s no question. He’s worked on his game, but some of that is God-given. I haven’t seen a player like that at Michigan with just that complete package.”

The Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament final is on March 23rd, but with Michigan in fourth-place in the conference, the Wolverines, at 12-12-6 overall, are most likely not going that far — meaning Hughes will most likely be in Vancouver within a month or so.

The 18-year-old has four goals and 25 assists in 26 games this season. He’s also even on the plus-minus meter.

Will Lockwood

If you thought Hughes was the only Wolverine capable of deking out an entire team, think again.

Lockwood scored a goal against the Fighting Irish that matched any end-to-end rush Hughes made all season, picking up the puck behind his own net, making moves at the Notre Dame blue-line before finishing the play with a deke to his forehand to fool the goalie.

It’s the kind of goal that screams NHL potential.

But that wasn’t it for Lockwood on the night. On another play, he showed the physical side of his game, lugging the puck up the ice only to blow up the Notre Dame defender who dared to get in his way.

The 20-year-old finished the game with a goal, four shots on net and a plus-1 rating.

Lockwood was awarded the Big Ten second star of the week last week for his four points in two games against rival Michigan State.

The Canucks’ 2016 3rd-rounder has 14 goals and 12 assists in 30 games this season. He’s also a plus-7 overall.

Jonathan Dahlen

Seven points in seven games. A factor once again in the AHL rookie scoring race.

Dahlen’s had his ups-and-downs playing his first season of professional hockey in North America, but a recent string of consistent play can be seen as a sign that the slick Swede has found his footing.

Dahlen put up two assists in three games for the Comets this past week, with one coming in overtime on Saturday to help dispatch the Penguins.

The overtime assist came as Dahlen received the puck at the opposition’s blue-line, waited for teammate Cam Darcy to streak into the zone and fed him with a great pass for a nice backhand winner.

Dahlen has now crept back into the top-20 list of AHL rookie scorers with 14 goals and 15 assists in 49 games. The list includes some primo prospects, including Detroit Red Wings 2018 6th-overall pick Filip Zadina (15 goals, 14 assists) and Carolina Hurricanes 2017 12th-overall pick Martin Necas (nine goals, 21 assists).

Point is, despite some inconsistent play, Dahlen is among elite company as he tries to navigate his way to the NHL.

He also was even defensively over the past week, keeping his plus-minus at a minus-13 overall.

Jett Woo

Woo’s wooing us in ways we wouldn’t have imagined when the brawny, brainy defenceman was drafted last summer.

Woo’s attacking game has grown by leaps and bounds as he continues to contribute to Moose Jaw’s offensive output this WHL season.

Woo scored again this past week in the Warriors’ 6-3 win against the Regina Pats on Saturday. The goal came on the power play with the score tied 1-1 as a teammate wheeled a pass to Woo, who fired a one-timer past the goalie from just inside the blue-line.

Woo finished the game with a goal, three shots on net and a plus-2 rating.

Woo didn’t get any points in Moose Jaw’s 3-2 loss on Thursday to the Edmonton Oil Kings, but he was named the game’s third star for his three-shot effort and good defensive work.

The 18-year-old has 11 goals and 37 assists in 48 games this season. He’s sixth in scoring among WHL defencemen and is a plus-11 overall.

Jack Rathbone

Another solid week for the stout defensive prospect out of Harvard.

Rathbone had an assist at St. Lawrence on Friday and fired four shots on net in the 3-2 win. He was also even on the plus-minus meter.

On Saturday, Rathbone didn’t pick up any points in a 5-3 loss at 10th-ranked Clarkson, but had two shots on net and was an even player.

Harvard is the 15th-ranked team in the NCAA and the Canucks’ 4th-rounder in 2017 has four goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season.

Tyler Madden

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Madden had an off night on Friday in Northeastern’s 4-1 win versus Vermont. He had no points, two shots on net and went three-for-nine in the faceoff circle.

The Canucks’ 2018 3rd-rounder gave it another go on Saturday, a 2-1 win over the same team in which Madden still didn’t register any points, but had eight shots on net and went eight-for-14 on faceoffs.

The Huskies, at 19-9-1 are the 11th-ranked team in the NCAA while Madden, 19, has nine goals and 14 assists in 26 games. He’s also a plus-2 overall.

mraptis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/mike_raptis



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