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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Rising sophomore defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic (Grimsby, Ontario) of the Merrimack College men's ice hockey team was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets 74th overall – the 12th selection of the third round – on Day 2 of the 2017 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft at the United Center in Chicago.
"We couldn't be more excited for Johnny and his family," said head coach Mark Dennehy. "He was one of the top freshman defensemen in all of college hockey last year and it was a pleasure to watch his game develop as the season progressed. The Winnipeg Jets staff clearly saw that and have a fine young player and an even better young man in their organization."
The Jets selected Kovacevic as the 74th overall pick and the 12th pick of the third round, which represents the second-highest draft selection by any player in program history. The only former Warrior to have been selected earlier in any previous NHL Draft was former goatlender Jim Hrivnak '86, who was taken 61st overall in the third round of the 1986 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. Kovacevic is one of only five all-time Warriors to be drafted in the first 100 picks of any NHL Draft, as well.
A Grimsby, Ontario, native, Kovacevic burst onto the scene with a 19-point rookie campaign, as he ranked fourth on the team in overall scoring. He appeared in all but one of the team's 37 games and finished the year with a +7 rating, three goals and 16 assists. In 22 conference games, he averaged exactly 0.5 points per game on a 2-9—11 scoring ledger, finishing with an identical +7 rating against league foes. Not only did Kovacevic lead all rookie Warriors and all defensemen on the team from an offensive standpoint, but he also had the second-best plus/minus rating on the team, and the best rating among defensemen.
Compared to all freshmen defensemen nationwide, Kovacevic ranked 12th nationally in scoring average and also had the third-best scoring average compared to his Hockey East peers. He also was tied for 20th in the country in plus/minus among that group, as well. He was twice named a Hockey East Top Performer by the conference.
Kovaceivc joins fellow Ontario native and rising senior forward Brett Seney (London, Ontario) as Warriors who have the honor of being NHL Draft selections. Seney was taken in the sixth round (157th overall) by the New Jersey Devils two years ago in the 2015 NHL Draft. Like Kovacevic, Seney also was drafted following his freshman season.