How will the NHL's top rookie perform in 2013?
After several months of pain and suffering, Gabriel Landeskog will finally get the opportunity to skate at the Pepsi Center as the captain of the Colorado Avalanche.
The recent lockout had prevented Colorado from taking the ice, but now that a new collective bargaining agreement has been agreed upon—although not ratified yet—the Avalanche will soon take the ice. Adrian Dater of The Denver Post reports that Colorado’s season will likely start on January 19, but that hasn’t been confirmed by the NHL yet:
If camp opens Friday—and that’s the day I think they will, but it might be Saturday—then I think it’s a lead-pipe cinch the Avs’ season will open on either the 19th or 20th. I’ll go with the 19th because I don’t think NBC will want to feature the Avs on their opening Sunday of games—no offense and all.
No matter what day the Avs start the season, Landeskog will still be the captain. Coach Joe Sacco and former captain Milan Hejduk told Landeskog that he’d be the next Colorado captain in early September, making him the youngest captain in NHL history (via NHL.com).
The promotion was well-warranted after a miraculous first year for the Swedish forward. Landeskog played in all 82 games last season, scoring 22 times and racking up 30 assists. He was later named the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top rookie in the league.
But after such a successful rookie campaign, how will Landeskog play in his sophomore season—especially since Colorado will be playing 48 games instead of 82? Here are a few predictions on his point totals for the upcoming year.
Landeskog led all Colorado skaters with 22 goals last season on a team-high 270 shots—80 more than Paul Stastny who had the second-most on the team.
Landeskog loves to shoot the puck at the net, and that’s shown in his shot total from last season. But to put that number in context, Landeskog had the 15th-most shots in the NHL in 2011-12 (via NHL.com). Unfortunately, however, he didn’t have a very high shooting percentage. Only 8.1 percent of his shots found the back of the next.
With a full season under Landeskog’s belt, I expect him to improve that shot percentage. I predict that he will take around 158 shots during the 2013 season and beat the goalie 16 times. Based on those values, Landeskog’s shot percentage would increase about two percent to 10.1.
Landeskog had the third-most assists on Colorado last season with 30. He was mainly playing alongside linemate Ryan O’Reilly for the entire season, while also taking the ice with Daniel Winnik—who was eventually traded—and Steve Downie—who was acquired midseason.
With the offseason signing of P.A. Parenteau, Mike Chambers of The Denver Post projects the Landeskog-O’Reilly-Downie line to remain unchanged—but note that O’Reilly has yet to be re-signed.
O’Reilly is one of the best weapons Colorado has had, and bringing him back would really help Landeskog out. Downie didn’t play much since he was acquired so late in the season, but he would also provide value to Landeskog’s progression as a hockey player.
Neither O’Reilly nor Downie are big goal scorers, but Landeskog will still be able to get them the puck to create opportunities to find the back of the net. I believe that the Landeskog-O’Reilly-Downie line will be the most productive during the 2013 season, and most of that will be credited toward Landeskog’s ability to make plays for his teammates.
Final Predictions: 16 Goals, 22 Assists, 38 Points