The Winnipeg Jets have added another depth defenceman to the fold. Well, it wasn’t quite an addition, but rather the offering of a re-invitation by way of another one-year contract.
This time, the recipient was 23-year-old back-ender Leon Gawanke.
A regular on the Manitoba Moose blueline last season, the German product will be back in Polar Night Blue for 2022-23. Whether he spends time with the big club or is back in the American Hockey League is solely up to management.
But who’s kidding, with the kind of defensive depth general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff seems to like, even if four regulars went down with injury, Gawanke wouldn’t hear his name called by new Jets’ bench boss Rick Bowness.
Gawanke would make the league-minimum $750K if playing with the Jets and $125K with the Moose.
Last season, the QMJHL’s Cape Breton graduate had 10 goals and 36 points to go along with 19 penalty minutes in 65 games for Manitoba – his third season in the league. He added four points and four penalty minutes in five Calder Cup Playoff games. Through 139 regular season AHL contests, Gawanke has a 15 goals, 54 assists and 47 total penalty minutes.
Selected 136th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenceman put up 29 goals and 121 points in 178 games with the Screaming Eagles during his CHL days. On top of his league play, Gawanke has suited up for Germany during the past two World Championships, scoring three points in 14 games overall.