By Carter Brooks
Photo courtesy of Leon Gawanke
The Winnipeg Jets have signed defenceman Leon Gawanke to a three-year entry-level contract.
The 19-year-old had until June 1st to agree upon an entry-level deal with the Jets, before he would re-enter the NHL draft as an unsigned free agent. After being drafted 136th overall in 2016, the big, German defenceman agreed to a contract that will see him make $810K annually, should he play with the Jets over the next three seasons. In the minors, his deal is worth $70K.
In 178 games for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound rearguard has put up an overwhelming 29 goals and 121 points - good for nearly 0.7 points-per-game. Gawanke has some international experience as well, representing Germany on multiple occasions, including the U-18s and U-20s.
Alongside earlier spring defensive signing Johnny Kovacevic, Gawanke will look to bring his offence to a blueline that will most likely soon be without the output of Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers. Gawanke is one of nine defencemen currently under contract within the Jets/Moose system (Byfuglien, Morrissey, Kulikov, Niku, Poolman, Stanley, Green, Kovacevic).
Gawanke completed his third QMJHL season as his team's leading point getter from the backend, while finishing third across the league in points scored by defencemen. In 11 postseason games, Gawanke collected two goals and seven points. He took home the Screaming Eagles' Top Defenceman and Outstanding Community Involvement awards this past season.