Winnipeg Jets defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic has been claimed off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.
The 25-year-old defender was entering his sixth professional season in the Winnipeg Jets organization. In joining the Canadiens, Kovacevic likely gets a better opportunity to play in more NHL games than he would have in the Jets system.
Kovacevic was often a pillar of stability for the Manitoba Moose, playing several seasons on the top pairing. He was regularly paired with Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola, helping the Moose defensive group become one of the strongest in the entire AHL.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic has been claimed off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens
Kovacevic finally received his first taste of NHL action in 2021-22, playing in four games for the Jets. Though he recorded no points in his brief stint in the NHL, Kovacevic did reach new professional career highs in goals and points with the Moose.
Playing in 62 games with the Manitoba Moose, Kovacevic recorded 11 goals and 30 points. He did not register a point in any of the five Moose playoff games.
Drafted in the third round, 74th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 2017, Kovacevic spent the next three seasons playing for the Merrimack College Warriors of the NCAA. In his 101 games with the Warriors, he recorded 54 points.
Kovacevic signed his Entry-Level Contract with the Winnipeg Jets following his 2018-19 collegiate season, making his debut with the Manitoba Moose on April 19, 2019, against the Chicago Wolves. In the game, he recorded a goal and an assist in his first-ever professional game.
The Manitoba Moose will miss his presence on the blue line, although the defensive system is still relatively full. Entering the 2022-23 season, the Moose still have a very strong projected top pairing of Leon Gawanke and Declan Chisholm, but the Kovacevic loss will undoubtedly test the organizational depth.
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