I am pretty disappointed at the disrespect being given by Gabriel Landeskog's biggest supporters and fans. Every time it happens perceptions about the #2 overall pick are warped and modified in ways that don't credit him as a hockey player. It often looks something like this:
But he can change the momentum with his character, on-ice work ethic, and never-say-die attitude, not to mention his already highly developed sense of leadership.
Or maybe something like this:
This guy screams like he’d be that valuable forward come playoff time that nevers gives up, goes and grinds out a goal or two…
Generally, if you were to read this board (and apparently many scouting/draft editorials) one might start to think drafting Landeskog #2 overall was a good move because he is an extremely hard working player with lots of lots of intangibles and a body ready for the big leagues. It makes it sound like a team drafting Brady Quinn and that he will be a Super Bowl QB on intangibles. And it is this idea that has a number of fans wishing for an elite skills-based talent instead of getting-by-on-early-physical-maturity Gabriel Landeskog.
After the draft I decided to watch some video of Landeskog and then formulate an expert's opinion. I was surprised to see a different player than what had been described. Oh sure, he has some size compared to others in the league, and he uses his body from time to time to hit things that move. But I didn't see lots of power moves that took advantage of his size and his goals generally lacked any wow factor that might be associated with talent at the surface level, especially when contrasted with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jonathan Huberdeau. Then I realized what I really saw was a player who had quick reflexes, relentless focus, physical coordination, and most importantly he was very, very smart (hockey IQ).
All of Landeskogs physical tools were magnified by his hockey intelligence and the result was he didn't have to abuse defenders with sick moves, he was scoring without need for them. He found seams to create shooting space. He read rebounds in advance. He put himself in position to receive easy passes. He touched the puck with intent to score but readily passed it as well. Capitalized.
The thing that interests me is that this draft looked like potentially more talented, score first Paul Stastny to me. I am looking forward to seeing how this difficult to articulate talent transitions to the NHL and whether his physical talents round out consistent in form. Until then, we can stop pretending that being a hard worker earns status as a second overall pick in the NHL and pay the man some respect where it has been earned.