With the Avalanche loving the Tank Job lately, there is a real possibility that they get a Top Five draft pick. There are many worthy choices. I recently had the chance to see Gabriel Landeskog in action. Now, I'm not an expert, nor have I seen the replays. But here are my thoughts, and the thoughts of those who are experts and have seen the replays.
I can see why he's been getting attention! He's not a big guy at 6'1 (and a tad under 200 pounds), but he plays big. I could see immediately why he was good. I could immediately tell when he was on the ice. He's fast, and not afraid to hit. The bigger thing for me is that he (Oh look at me making assumptions) looked like he didn't mind taking the hits. In an article on NHL.com last year Landeskog said:
"I try and pattern my game like Jarome Iginla (of Calgary) and Mike Richards (of Philadelphia)," Landeskog told NHL.com. "They're kind of my role models. I look a lot like how they play, and I want to be a leader like they are for their teams."
After seeing him play, I don't doubt it. It would be interesting if they were to draft him to replace Chris Stewart, who whether or not you like the trade, missed in the Avs dressing room. At the very least the physicality he brought onto the ice is missed. Cameron Gaunce has been doing a good job of bringing some of the physicality back, like when he recently stuck up for Mark Olver after an open ice hit against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the same article they had aquote that I loved, I guess Gabriel can thank his father for being a physical type.
"I think it all started when we were allowed to hit (in Sweden) at age 13," Landeskog said. "My dad used to play, and he was a big, physical defenseman and he gave me advice. He said, 'It's not bad to play physical, and it's an asset to your game.' I started young and came along with it and have been using (that physical approach) to my advantage now."
Another few things I noticed when I watched: he didn't make silly mistakes, he didn't get "caught", he was also a very unselfish player with great vision on ice. He did some great passes and was able to find teammates quickly and with very little space.
More after the jump!
But here is some more information on the talented Landeskog. He was third in the OHL rookies in points, and third on the Kitchener Rangers in points. During the 2011 World Junior Championships he was named the alternate captain, although, he got injured after one game and couldn't compete in the rest of the championship. He is also a scholar, and gets better grades than the remainder of the Kitchener Rangers. TSN ran a piece on him in October.
All of these attributes bring a smile to the faces of NHL scouts when they come across a junior-aged prospect that embodies everything a hockey player is supposed to be. But a raised eyebrow might also accompany those smiles when they come to the realization that the player that they are watching is a 17-year-old Swede who is dominating the competition in North America.
That sentiment is echoed by his teammates. "When you see him on the ice, you think that he's a North American player," said Maxwell. "He came over here and right away he was one of the leaders on the team."
The Hockey News looked at him as well. They talk about his leadership capabilities. It's fairly high praise.
He’s the first European to carry the ‘C’ in team history and a Canadian Hockey League rarity. The fact he’s only in his second season with the team compounds the honor.
"For me he’s in the Mike Richards territory with leadership and I fully believe he’ll be a captain in the NHL one day," said Kitchener coach Steve Spott. "On the ice, he’s a powerful weapon every time he’s out there; he can score goals he can defend, he’s a 200-foot player, a complete player. At the same time, he’s our leader and deserving of being our captain."
But one of my favorite lines for THN article is this:
Mike Richards led by example, Derek Roy led by example…Gabriel’s a guy who not only leads by example, but he’s also vocal."
It'd certainly be nice to have a guy in the locker room who is able to lead not only by example but also not afraid to talk about it in the lockerroom.
Something I didn't really piece together until I read this piece found on AOL News that he was injured this season during the Juniors and so perhaps that did impact his numbers this year, because before the tournament his numbers were fantastic.
Gabriel Landeskog of the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers is the No. 1 player in the mid-term rankings. Landeskog has 45 points in 32 games so far for the Rangers, carries a plus-24, but is out for a while with his injury, which flared up during the World Juniors.
Something you may not have known is that there are very few players on the Avalanche that have a positive +/-. Greg Mauldin, David Van Der Gulik, David Liffiton, Mark Olver, and Shawn Belle is sitting at a neutral +/-. Notice anything about them? Perhaps the fact that out of these players Mauldin has the most games played, with 29. Out of the guys that are regulars on the roster Daniel Winnik and David Jones have the better numbers with -1 and -2. Having a guy with a +24 is not a bad thing to aim for.
Steve Spott, the Kitchener Rangers head coach heaps praise onto not only Gabriel, but his father Tony as well. Saying that Tony not only cares who how his son does on the ice he also cares about how he does academically and how he can handle the pressures off the ice as well. HockeysFuture has an in-depth article about Ladenskog.
"I think [those comparisons] are fair because those guys are champions and I think Gabriel plays the same type of game that those two big guys do, where they go to the front of the net -- a blue-collar game, and those are the type of players that win in the playoffs," Spott added. "You can have a bunch of smaller, skill guys if you want, but you need those Landeskogs, those Holmstrens, and those Franzens if you’re going to win Stanley Cups and I think he’s in that lineup of guys."
"He’s been really big for me. He’s not only been their for me after games and tournaments, but he’s also been there teaching me about life outside of hockey: how you take success and how you handle that kind of stuff and handle yourself off the ice to get to that next level," Landeskog said. "As a player, he was a tough defenseman and I think that taught me a lot about that defensive type of game. You can’t only be playing that one side of the ice -- you have to play on both sides of the rink."
The GoodPoint also looked into Gabriel.
"I'm not one of those guys at all that just wants to go first overall. I don't want to put any pressure on myself by saying, 'I want to go Top 5 or Top 10'. I'm just going to work hard every night and see where that takes me," said Landeskog. "With the draft coming up the most important thing is to enjoy the moment. Hopefully a team picks you that believes in you and wants you to excel as hockey player and as a person."
I can certainly try to answer any questions.