Another Jets prospect is heading overseas (although since he is from Germany perhaps it would be appropriate to say he is staying put) as Jets PR have announced that defenceman prospect Leon Gawanke will be loaned to Eisbären Polar Bears of the DEL for the start of the 2020-21 season.
After three seasons in the QMJHL the Jets 2017 5th rounder made the jump to the pro ranks playing 48 games for the Jets AHL affiliate. He began the 2019-20 campaign in a three-man rotation with fellow prospects Johnathan Kovacevic (Jets 2017 3rd rounder) and Luke Green (Jets 2016 3rd rounder). With Green out due to injury at the beginning of December the opportunity presented itself for Gawanke and Kovacevic to seize a bigger role with the Moose.
In 48 games with Manitoba Gawanke had four goals and 22 assists for 26 points which put him fifth in scoring for the Moose and made him the top blueliner on the team in terms of points. His play earned him praise from Moose head coach Pascal Vincent.
Playing back home is clearly something that will be quite impactful for the Berlin-born Gawanke who told Lisa Surkamp in an interview with rbb Sport when asked about the significance (using Google Translate):
“That would of course be of huge importance. I have played with the Eisbären since 2005 and at the beginning I had a season ticket for three or four years, back then in the Welli. I was a big fan and always watched all trainings. It used to be my goal to play for the polar bears. That it has now gone beyond that is of course wonderful. But it would still be a small childhood dream that would come true if I ever did a DEL game.”
I had him as the best Moose Dman in this pandemic shortened season and it will be interesting to see what he is able to do next year.