With the 2011-12 season sadly in the rear-view window, it’s once again time for The Rat Trick to take a look back at those who had the biggest impact on the the Florida Panthers. Over the coming days, we’ll look at review everyone who had key roles in the past season and give them the dreaded letter grade.
I have the luxury of doing my player rating on Ed Jovanovski.
Games Played: 66
We all know Ed Jovanovski’s history with the Florida Panthers, and if you don’t let me refresh your memory. Ed Jovanovski was the first overall pick the Panthers made in the 1994 NHL draft. During his early time here, he was known as JovoCop, Jovo, or simply just Ed. Jovo was traded away from the Florida Panthers during the 1998-1999 season to the Vancouver Canucks, where he spent 7 full seasons with the team. He was then acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes, and spent 5 seasons with the Yotes. During this offseason, an opportunity came about where Jovo could come back to his beloved first NHL team, but this time, it would be for a different purpose then the first time around.
Many questions were brought up at the start of the season about Jovo. Questions like, Is he going to even be able to play half of the 82 game season? Is signing Jovo for 4 years way too long of a contract? What was Dale Tallon thinking?
Well, what I believe Dale Tallon was thinking about, was specifically a man who like Jovo came to the Panthers very young and played a similar ground and pound mentallity, who would groom well under Jovo’s leadership. And that man was Erik Gudbranson. Jovo mentored Erik all season long and we saw the determination and grittiness Erik brought, specifically during the playoff run. This has to be a result of Jovo mentoring Erik the entire step of the way.
Now, back to Jovo. This year to say the least, was a bit rough for him, but I didn’t expect him to be a guy who would produce a ton of points from the point. His 58 shots on goal were a career low, his 3 goals were a career low, and his points in a season were also career lows. But I was not expecting him to be that guy to rely upon from the point. What I was more concern about was his defensive play, and he certainly held his own back there. Jovo ended with 71 hits in the regular season and 73 blocked shots as well, in his 66 games played. Although his offensive production was not as high as some expected, his defensive play still has not slowed down as dramatically as his offensive play. One aspect that can not be over looked, is his leadership.
Jovo is a seasoned veteran who has over 1080 games played, not including postseason action. His leadership on and off the ice was proven night after night. During post game interviews, he would calmly reassure everyone that everything is okay with the team, or he would say the things that made people feel good about the team. Although Jovo missed some time with a broken hand, he was still a mentor in the locker room during the injury, and thats something that cannot be overlooked.
Another key component to this was that Jovo knows his place on the team. He knows he’s the veteran and he knows that his goal is to mentor these young players for future success. Erik Gudbranson did not look like a rookie during that Devils playoff series, and thats a result from learning from one of the best veteran defenseman still left in the league. Yes, his 4.125 cap hit stings right now, but it’s all about grooming the younger players now rather then later.
Grade: C. This grade fits Jovanovski because he was not meant to be here to be the offensive guy like I’ve said. He was that type of guy in the past but he knew his role this season was to help defensively and give 16-18 minutes a night. Jovanovski has a couple more years in him to help develop this team into a Cup contender, so I hope not only will Jovanovski help on the ice, but off the ice just as much.