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Gawanke, Acquired in Kniazev Trade, Will Sign With Sharks

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Credit: Manitoba Moose

The San Jose Sharks have traded a defenseman.

It’s not superstar Erik Karlsson – the Sharks have sent out prospect Artemi Kniazev to the Winnipeg Jets for fellow prospect blueliner Leon Gawanke.

Gawanke, 24, was a Jets’ 2017 fifth-round pick. He skated for Germany’s silver medal-winning side at the recent World Championships and has starred for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose in the last four seasons. He tied for the AHL lead for defensemen with 20 goals last year.

Gawanke is an RFA and has never played in the NHL, but it looks like his time could be coming. If the San Jose Sharks trade Erik Karlsson, there’s a clear offensive void on the blueline, that the 6-foot-1 right-hander could conceivably help with. The German defenseman has signed a contract with DEL side Adler Mannheim, but according to agent Claude Lemieux, Gawanke can get out of that contract for an NHL deal by Jul. 15.

“He is signing with the Sharks,” Lemieux said via text.

Expect Gawanke to compete for a job during training camp.

Kniazev, 22, was a San Jose Sharks’ 2019 second-round pick. The 6-foot-0 left-hander has starred for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda over the last years, piling up 56 points in 121 games. He also made his NHL debut in 2021-22, appearing in one game.

Kniazev is headed into the last year of his entry-level contract and was expected to compete for an NHL job this fall.

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