Ed Jovanovski Provides Leadership to the Panthers’ Depth Chart: A Fan’s Take

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Defenseman Ed Jovanovski may be buried on the Florida Panthers' depth chart but the 36 year-old NHL veteran brings much more to the table than a handful of goals and assists.

Jovanovski was originally drafted by the Cats back in 1994. At the time he was a huge pick; he went number one overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Jovo played 70 games his rookie season in 1995-96 and scored 21 points. That also happens to be the last time the Cats went to the Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Travels

After four seasons and two playoff runs with the Panthers Jovo was involved in a package trade that sent him to the Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately for the Panthers, it was with the Canucks that Jovanovski really came out of his shell. During his seven year stint in Vancouver it wasn't odd for Jovanovski to put up over 40 points in a season. Between 2000 and 2003 he was named to the NHL All-Star team three times and won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002 with Team Canada.

The Phoenix Coyotes signed Jovo as an unrestricted free-agent before the 2006-07 season and he didn't slow down when he arrived in Phoenix. He was named to the NHL All-Star team during his first two years in Phoenix. His performance with the Coyotes included a career high 51 point season in 2007-08.

Homecoming

Before the beginning of last season the Panthers brought Jovanovski back home with a four-year, $16 million dollar contract. This may sound like a lot of money for a third line defenseman but Jovo brings experience, leadership and the ability to win to South Florida.

Jovanovski's leadership on the ice is particularly important because he provides guidance to some of the Panthers' defensive prospects. One such prospect is Erik Gudbranson who is eerily similar to a young Jovanovski. Like Jovanovski, Gudbranson was a first round draft pick, he was selected by the Panthers in the first round (3rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and like Jovanovski, he's a big defenseman; Gudbranson is listed at 6-4 and 195 pounds and is a monster on the ice.

After all the accomplishments in his long NHL career there is still one thing Jovo hasn't been able to do; he's never lifted the Stanley Cup over his head. Due to the length of his contract there is a good chance he will retire as a Panther and only has three more seasons to accomplish that goal. A Stanley Cup run may sound like a long-shot for the Panthers but Jovanovski is familiar with succeeding as an underdog.

More from this contributor:

What an NHL Lockout could mean for the Florida Panthers: A Fan's Take

The Florida Panthers' Depth Breakdown at Right Wing: A Fan's Take

A Fan's Take: Will Roberto Luongo Start next Season for the Panthers?

Sources:

All statistics from Yahoo! Sports

All player trade, and awards information from TSN Canada

Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein

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