Merrimack junior defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic will forgo his final season of eligibility after signing a two-year entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets drafted Kovacevic in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
According to CapFriendly, Kovacevic’s is worth an average annual value of $925,000 (including $92,500 in signing bonuses) in the NHL and $70,000 in the minors. He’s expected to join the Manitoba Moose (AHL) on an amateur tryout agreement and finish the season with the AHL club; his two-year NHL deal begins next season (2019-20).
Kovacevic finished his junior season with 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) in 31 games for the Warriors and wrapped up his three-year collegiate career with 54 points (9 goals, 45 assists) in 101 games.
Kovacevic’s signing marks the third straight year the Warriors have had a player sign an NHL contract, following Brett Seney (2018), Hampus Gustafsson (2017) and Collin Delia (2017). Kovacevic becomes the first Merrimack defenseman to sign an NHL contract out of college in 10 years, dating back to Joe Loprieno signing with the San Jose Sharks in 2009. Karl Stollery signed an NHL contract with the Colorado Avalanche, but his first deal out of college was an AHL deal with the Lake Erie Monsters.
With graduations and pro signings, along with Ryan Cook reportedly exploring a graduate transfer, it’s possible that Merrimack could only return Dominic Dockery and Tyler Heidt on defense next season.