Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25 -
#18 - Leon Gawanke
6’1” 192 lbs - Defence - Shoots Right - Age: 20
QMJHL 2018-2019 Season: 62 GP - 17G - 40A - 57PTS - 26PIM - 196 SOG
I try to not get too excited about Leon Gawanke, because he did play in the QMJHL, which tends to see higher point totals than the WHL or OHL, but Gawanke has been one of my favourite Winnipeg Jets prospects for a while.
Gawanke was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 5th round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He’s played the last three years with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Q, picking up 121 points in 178 career games with the club.
Gawanke had 32 points in each of his first two seasons with Cape Breton, but broke out for 17 goals and 40 assists (57 points for those keeping track at home) in his final campaign.
Gawanke jumped from four goals in 2017-18 to 17 in 2018-19, and a big part of that was by being more selective in his shooting and getting away from just unleashing slapshots from the blue line. Cam Robinson with EP Rinkside got into this a little more (paywall) when he did his prospect review of the Jets. Because Gawanke is being more selective, his shots are getting through to the net more, and he’s also able to place shots to allow for rebounds and deflections, which is a major bonus.
Gawanke was both a big part of Cape Breton’s power play and penalty kill, as the team made it to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs last year.
Gawanke had five shots but no points in the Rookie Showcase tournament. The rookie will be in a fight for playing time this season, as the Jets are likely to carry seven defenders, but have 14 (15 including Ville Heinola) defenders under contract, plus the Moose have guys on AHL deals. You don’t really want to have all six guys being 23 or younger, but for the sake of prospect development, they need to play somewhere. And the ECHL is better than the pressbox. I’m not saying that’s where Gawanke is going, but somebody is.