With the first pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers select defencemen, Ed Jovanovksi. Before being drafted by the Panthers, Jovanovski played his major junior hockey for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. While in the OHL, Jovanovski quickly made a name for himself, scoring 50 points in his first year and 65 in his second season. In the two seasons spent in the OHL, Jova was able to capture a spot on the all-rookie first team; first team all-star’s and second team all-star. After an impressive two years, the Panthers knew they had to have him.
In his first season with the Panthers, Jovanovski was voted onto the all-rookie team and was a runner up for the rookie of the year trophy. Jovanovski was just what the Panthers needed, a player who was able to help contribute on the offense while also playing great defense. He also didn’t take anything from anyone. In fact, during the preseason of his rookie year, Jovanovski broke his hand in a fight, causing him to miss the first eleven games of the regular season. During his first tenure with the Panthers, Jovanovski continuously received suspensions from the NHL for fighting. He also missed several games due to injuries. Mid-way through the 99’ season Jovanovski was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in a seven player deal that sent Hall of Famer Pavel Bure to the Panthers.
Soon after being traded from the Panthers, Jovanovski established himself as an elite defender in the league. For three straight seasons Jovanovski won the Babe Pratt Trophy, which is awarded each year to the Canucks best defender. Not only was he awarded this trophy three straight seasons, but Jovanovski also appeared in three All-Star games while playing for Vancouver. Unfortunately for Jovanovski his time as a Canucks would end after the team decided to not offer him a new contract after the 05-06’ season.
The team that was lucky enough to sign Ed was the Phoenix Coyotes. In his five years with Phoenix Jovanovski was able to make two more All-Star appearances. However, his time in Phoenix wasn’t always the best. Season after season, Jovanovski was constantly battling a variety of injuries. When his contract was up, the Coyotes decided not to resign the veteran defender.
Yet again, Jovanovski was unwanted by a team and looking for work. Despite his increasing age, numerous injuries, and low production on the ice, Jovanovski found a new team and it didn’t take long. The team that decided to take a chance on Jovanovski was none other than the Florida Panthers. The kid returned to the team that drafted him as a man and a player that could help groom some of that younger talent. Although last season Jovanovski’s statistics weren’t anything to rave about, his presence on the ice was worth every penny the Cats spent on him. Last season Jovanovski took rookie defender Erik Gudbranson under his wing as the two were constantly matched up together on the blue line.
This year it’s a little different. Many are speculating that Jovanovski is done and this could very well be it for him. Yes, he is on the downside of his career, there is no denying that, but Jovanovski has plenty left in the tank coming into this season. Last year Jovanovski averaged 16 minutes and 42 seconds on the ice per game. This year, that time might have to be cut down a little bit. However, if the Panthers could get 12-14 minutes per game out of Jovanovski, they would be getting a whole lot. He might not be the aggressor that he used to be, but he is now also a lot more mature. His knowledge of the game is through the roof. While he is out on the ice this season, don’t look for him to have a huge year scoring wise, because let’s face it, that’s not who he is anymore. This year will be another year of Jovanovski helping out the younger guys, while also giving the Panthers good minutes. The experience and knowledge of the game that he possesses is invaluable. Next season it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Jovanovski scores about the same amount of points he did last season, right around the 10-12 mark.
This season should be a good one to Jovanovski as he can continue to spread his knowledge of the game throughout the locker room while still having the chance to be a big contributor for the Panthers.
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