The Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks have agreed to terms on a trade involving defenseman Leon Gawanke to San Jose and Artemi Kniazev to Winnipeg. San Jose receives Gawanke’s signing rights while Kniazev is in the final year of his entry-level contract.
Leon Gawanke, selected in the fifth round at 136th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, voiced his frustrations on his way to go play back home in the DEL. Gawanke signed a four-year deal in the DEL and was unsure if he would stay in North America to pursue a professional hockey career. Gawanke has played with the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, since the 2019-20 season. In his 2022-23 season, Gawanke posted career-high numbers in goals (20) and points (45). He was one assist shy of tying and potentially breaking his career-high of 26 assists that he set in the 2021-22 season.
Artemi Kniazev, selected in the second round at 48th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, has has a slow start trying to make it to the NHL. Kniazev has played for the San Jose Barracuda since the 2021-22 season; Kniazev also played in one NHL game with the Sharks the same season. Though, Kniazev would stick in the minors as he continues to develop. In consecutive seasons, Kniazev would post 28 points, seven goals, and 21 assists in 2021-22 and five goals and 23 assists in 2022-23.
Both Kniazev and Gawanke need a change of scenery, and both prospects received the change of scenery. Gawanke might also find himself playing at the NHL level as San Jose looks to play their young talent. Kniazev could find himself slotting in for a handful of games and possibly more.