Jets RFA defenceman leaves the organization, signs long-term deal in Europe

Published May 12, 2023 at 8:20
BY COOPER GODIN

After four seasons in the American Hockey League with the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Jets restricted free agent defenceman Leon Gawanke has decided to return home.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Gawanke has signed a four-year contract with Adler Mannheim of DEL, Germany's top professional league. While a four-year contract might not seem 'long-term' in North American eyes, European teams rarely give out contracts longer than two years, so it would be a bit of a surprise if Gawanke makes a return to North America in the future.

"Mannheim has been trying to get my services for almost a year. The Adler are one of the top clubs in Europe and I think I can play a good role. I haven't won anything in my career and I'm hungry for titles. I want to win the championship with Mannheim," Gawanke said.

Adler Mannheim's Sport Manager Jan-Axel Alavaara commented on the signing by saying: "Leon stands out the most when he's in charge. He plays a strong first pass, makes smart offensive decisions and knows when to take risks and when to back off. In addition, he has a hard, precise shot, which he likes to use from the blue line, and has solid defensive awareness,"



Gawanke, 23, was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round (136th overall) in 2017, but never appeared in any games at the NHL level. In four AHL seasons with the Manitoba Moose, the Berlin native had 114 points (35 goals, 79 assists), 98 penalty minutes and was a minus-25.

Adler Mannheim fans won't have to wait too long before seeing Gawanke in action as he was named to Germany's roster for the 2023 IIHF World Hockey Championship. Gawanke and Germany will play their first game on Friday against Sweden.

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Jets RFA defenceman leaves the organization, signs long-term deal in Europe

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