MANITOBA MOOSE - FIRST QUARTER REPORT - Defensemen
THE DEFENSEMEN - Contracts w/ Winnipeg Jets
Declan Chisholm: Drafted in the 5th round (150th) of the 2018 draft, the 6'1" left-handed defenseman is entering his 3rd season with the Manitoba Moose.
Entering this season, Chisholm has shown that he has the ability to get his name on the scoresheet, with 43 points in 81 AHL games (.531%) including 11 goals. Typically on a pairing with Gawanke, Declan has developed into a solid 2 way defenseman at the AHL level, putting up positive plus/minus numbers in his first two seasons.
This year, the 22 yr old defender has continued to be impactful offensively, with 10 pts in 17 games (.588%). While the coaching staff has been forced to break up the Chisholm-Gawanke pairing to spread out the talent, they still get to play together on the 2nd PP unit. The two defenders play a big role on the unit, which typically includes the younger Jets prospects playing forward. Chisholm has done his part in making Manitoba successful with the man-advantage, netting all 3 of his goals this season on the powerplay.
The only negative for Chisholm would be his -4 rating on the season, but the Moose are a fairly young team that is prone to missing the occasional defensive coverage and putting the defensemen in difficult situations.
Leon Gawanke: The German-born defenseman was drafted by Winnipeg in the 5th round (136th) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and will be playing his 4th season with the Jets' farm team.
Over the previous 3 seasons, Gawanke has contributed 69 points in 139 AHL games (.496%), but has always found himself on the wrong side of the plus/minus rating (-5, -13, & -1). If you disregard a forgetful second season (7 pts in 26 games & -13) with Manitoba, Leon's offensive performance is very similar to Chisholm's with a better than .500 point percentage.
In 2022-23, the 23 yr old has continued to be an offensive threat, amassing 9 points in 15 games (.600%) and a +5 rating. The right-handed German has put his one-timer shot to good use on the 2nd PP unit, scoring 2 of his 4 goals with the man-advantage. With those 2 PP goals, he is now halfway to tying his career-high of 4, while already setting bests in the game winning goals (2), shooting percentage (10.8%), and penalty minutes (21) categories.
Simon Lundmark: The Jets selected the Swedish defenseman in the 2nd round with the 51st overall pick of the 2019 draft.
Lundmark came over to North American as a 21 yr old last season, ending up with 14 pts in 57 games (.246%) while playing behind Kovacevic & Gawanke in the depth chart.
Circumstances resulted in coach Morrisson opting to bump the young RHD up the lineup and pairing him with Heinola on the top pairing. The promotion hasn't gone without hiccups (currently sitting at -4), but Simon has done well for the most part. Lundmark has been credited with 5 assists in the opening 18 games, slightly increasing his output to a .278 points percentage.
The young Swede doesn't get to see the ice when Manitoba has a man-advantage, but he does play a key role on the Moose's solid penalty killing units.
The 22 yr old defender uses his above average skating and solid body size (6'2") to play a defensively responsible game, but I'm fairly confident that his offensive ceiling isn't very high. At this point, if I had to make a comparision it would be to project his development ending as a slightly bigger DeMelo.
Ashton Sautner: Born in Flin Flon, MB, the left-handed defenseman was never drafted by an NHL team and ended up signing a contract with the Vancouver Canucks in 2015-16.
Sautner spent the next 6 seasons in that organization, getting into 23 games (3 pts) in the NHL, but mainly playing in the AHL with Utica/Abbotsford. With a AHL career-high of 13 pts in a season, Winnipeg didn't sign the veteran defenseman to provide offense. While the 28 yr old is not big (6'1"), he does play a physical style and isn't afraid to throw big hits or use his body to block shots.
Ashton started the season on the bottom pairing, but was bumped up to the 2nd pairing when the coaching staff split up the Chisholm-Gawanke pairing. Throughout his 18 games this year, the veteran defender has provided 3 pts (.167%), which is on pace with his career norms and would give him 12 pts over a full 72 games. Sautner is another member of the well-performing penalty killing groups, effectively using his stick to break up cross-ice passes and blocking high danger shots.
Tyrel Bauer: Drafted in the 6th round (164th) of the 2020 NHL draft, the 6'3" 207 lb defenseman is making his AHL debut this season. Bauer played 4 full seasons in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds, but was never really an offensive threat (career-high of .344 points %). He did provide good defensive play and leadership, eventually becoming the captain of his WHL squad.
Ty has been sheltered on the 3rd pairing in the games he has played, with him currently splitting time with fellow RHD Stewart. At the quarter mark of the season, Bauer has dressed for 9 AHL games, but has yet to get his name on the scoresheet. He does sport a +2 rating and does provide Chisholm with a stay-at-home partner, allowing the more offensively inclined of the two to jump into rushes. I've liked what I've seen from the 20 yr old defender, including his willingness to drop the gloves in defense of his teammates. One of his two AHL fights was against a proven tough guy with NHL experience and the young Moose player not only held his own but put his opponent on the defensive for most of the bout.
I really have no idea whether Bauer will become an NHL player, but if he does his ceiling might be a more physical, less offensively capable DeMelo. It really is way too early for any predictions and I am looking forward to see if Bauer can work his way into becoming more of a regular player as the season progresses.
THE DEFENSEMEN - Contracts w/ Manitoba Moose
Dean Stewart: Another Manitoba-born player on the Moose, with the Portage La Prarie born d-man signing another contract with Manitoba in the off-season. Stewart was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes, but was never offered a contract by the organization.
Last year, the 6'2" smooth skating defenseman signed with the Moose and appeared in 20 games, getting a goal & 8 assists in 20 games (.450%) and a -3 rating.
The RHD has spent the start of this year splitting time with Bauer on the 3rd pairing, but the offensive upside he provides (fills in on PP) has resulted in him getting the nod more frequently. Stewart has seen a decrease in offensive output so far, with 5 pts in 13 games (.308%), but he has played well defensively (+5) to make up for it.
As a 24 yr old, Stewart is unlikely to become an NHL regular in the future, however he does seem like he has the skills to become a productive AHLer/emergency call up option.
Simon Kubicek: Born in Czechia, the 20 year old signed a contract with the Manitoba Moose after going undrafted in his eligible years.
In his final year in the WHL, he put up 41 pts in 68 games to go along with 133 PIM and a +29 rating with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Standing at 6'2" and 194 lbs, the young RHD may be someone to keep an eye on and hope the Jets possibly found a diamond in the rough. However, at this point he is well down the depth chart on the Moose and started his professional career with the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL. The Growlers have been one of that leagues' best and Kubicek has assisted with 5 pts in 15 games.
When Manitoba sustained a string of injuries, Kubicek did get a call up to the AHL, appearing in 3 games, getting no points, 2 penalty minutes, and a -5 rating.
NAME / AGE / GP / PTS / PTS% / +/- / PIM
Heinola / 21 / 13 / 10 / .769 / +15 / 10
Chisholm / 22 / 17 / 10 / .588 / -4 / 9
Gawanke / 23 / 15 / 9 / .600 / +5 / 21
Lundmark / 22 / 18 / 5 / .278 / -4 / 6
Stewart / 24 / 13 / 4 / .308 / +5 / 6
Sautner / 28 / 18 / 3 / .167 / -2 / 16
Friend / 25 / 2 / 0 / .000 / -2 / 5
Kubicek / 20 / 3 / 0 / .000 / -5 / 2
Bauer / 20 / 9 / 0 / .000 / +2 / 16
Oligny / 29 / 0 / - / .000 / - / -