August 2: Today, the Jets officially announced Gawanke’s contract extension.
August 1: The Jets have taken care of one of their remaining restricted free agents as PuckPedia reports (Twitter link) that they’ve signed defenseman Leon Gawanke to a one-year, two-way deal. The contract will pay $750K in the NHL, $125K in the minors, and has a guarantee of $150K.
The 23-year-old, who was a fifth-round pick of Winnipeg back in 2017 (136th overall), recently finished up his entry-level contract. He has yet to play at the NHL level and spent last season with AHL Manitoba where he had 10 goals and 26 assists in 65 games, earning him an invitation to play for Germany at the World Championship where he got into four games.
Gawanke is now waiver-eligible so it won’t be as easy for Winnipeg to send him down next season. At this point, it’s unlikely that he will break camp with the Jets unless there are injuries or trades so he will have to be exposed to waivers to return to the Moose. Even without any NHL experience, that could be risky as young right-shot blueliners are often in demand. If he makes it back to Manitoba, Gawanke will once again be an all-situations player and should have a chance to get his first NHL opportunity in 2022-23.