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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25, #3: Gabriel Landeskog Seeks Bounceback Season

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He needs to have a better season for his own game, and for the team as a whole

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

Gabe Landeskog, Avalanche captain and 2011 2nd overall pick, enters his seventh season looking to bounce back from a really tough year. Landy is entering the fourth year of his contract, set to make 6 million over the course of the season.

It’s not easy to wear the C for a dead-last team, in a year that saw his lowest point scoring totals since 2012-2013. Last year was his first full season in which he was unable to score 20 goals. He saw scoring droughts in consecutive games reaching double digits, indicative of the streaky offensive player he was. This low point total was achieved despite more ice time per game on average than any other forward not named Nathan MacKinnon.

So, what happened? In comparison to the previous season, Landy did see his percentage of starts in the defensive zone jump last season, 47.6% to 49.4%. He also saw his percentage of starts in the offensive zone fall, 52.4% to 50.6%. It’s possible the fact that the Avs as a team spent more time in the defensive zone last season might have impacted his offense. I think that argument only goes so far, given that neither statistic marks a career low in the offensive zone or high in the defensive zone respectively. Landy was paired with a general carousel of linemates throughout the season, which again I think is something that affected the entire offense and not necessarily his offensive game alone. Average ice time per game remained consistent with the 18-19 minutes a game he’s been good for throughout his career. He’s made 169 shots on goal in each of his last two seasons, yet his shooting percentage dropped this season from 11.8% to 10.7%. Total shots attempted actually jumped last year, from 247 to 266, so both those numbers indicate significant drops in total scoring opportunities compared with previous seasons. That’s a trend I’d love to see change this season.

Of course, all of this came during a season when Landeskog was the subject of trade speculation with a number of teams, all the way to the trade deadline. Landy also missed a few games last season, dealing with an unspecified lower body injury that kept him off the ice.

St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

A combination of these factors, as well as in general being surrounded by a poorly performing offense, contributed to this poor offensive season. Through the end of the year, Landeskog expressed faith in the young corps coming up to the big club during interviews. Perhaps having the opportunity to develop chemistry with whoever his young linemates may be before the season begins will provide some spark to Landy’s offensive game this year. These are some of the lines he played on at the end of the year:

Landeskog-Jost-Grimaldi

Landeskog-Duchene-Compher

Landeskog-Duchene-Nieto

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Bourque

While Landy and Duchene generally haven’t clicked as linemates throughout each of their careers, I have faith that any of these kids coming up could develop some chemistry with the captain moving forward.

I see this season going one of two ways for Gabe. Ideally, he’ll be able to put out a healthy season where he gets back to the 20 goal mark. Reaching this threshold would both boost his trade value too, as that speculation may only be in a holding pattern for the time being. If I had my way, he’d drop the enforcer side of his personality, not fight as much, not take stupid penalties, and focus more on setting up the offense, crashing the net, and grinding out goals in the trenches. In reality, Landy will still take his fair share of penalties and get in a few scraps to spark the team. If he fails to stay healthy (everyone knock on wood), if he continues to shoot the puck less, and/or if he fails to develop chemistry with the young guys on the offense, maybe we see another season like the last. That, of course, would fall more into the category of bummer, so here’s to hoping it goes the first way.

Poll

Does Landeskog score 20 goals again for the Avalanche this season?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Yes
    (176 votes)
  • 13%
    No
    (28 votes)
204 votes total Vote Now