Gabriel Landeskog is considered by many to be the most NHL-ready amongst the draft-eligible forwards in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft Pool. He stands at 6' 1/2" and 204 lbs, plays either wing and possibly center if need be, and scored 36 goals with 30 assists in 53 games while captaining the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League this past season.
Hailing from Sweden, Landeskog chose to come to North America before being draft eligible, giving him the chance to grow accustomed to playing here. He is strong at both ends of the ice and has the look of a future captain at the NHL level.
The pre-draft rankings for Landeskog are as follows:
- NHL's Central Scouting Bureau - #2 North American Skater
- International Scouting Services - #5 North American Skater
- TSN - #3 North American Skater
- The Hockey News - #3 North American Skater
Projections have Landeskog as a future 30-goal scorer who is expected to play solidly at both ends of the ice, add toughness and leadership. There is no doubt that there are many teams that would love to add the likes of Landeskog, let's take a look at five candidates to potentially try and trade up for a him. In a quick look at several mock drafts, he is slotted to go anywhere from pick number two to number six in next Friday's draft.
Attached are the top five candidates to potentially look into trading up to get the opportunity to add Gabriel Landeskog to their roster.
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If there is one team in the rumor mill that has been mentioned with Gabriel Landeskog, it's been the Ottawa Senators. A team seemingly desperate for a new star to build around could be a great fit for a guy like Gabriel Landeskog, who just oozes leadership and a potential role model for teammates to look up to.
After all, how long do the Senators think Daniel Alfredsson will be around? He's coming off back surgery, and will be age 39 in December. What better role model could Landeskog have but fellow Swede Alfredsson?
At every level, it seems like Ottawa would be a great fit for Landeskog, but it is at least somewhat unlikely that he will last to the sixth pick—meaning if the Sens want him as badly as has been speculated, they will likely need to trade up to get him.
The franchise formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers is trying to find itself a new identity as it is relocating the franchise to Winnipeg, Manitoba for the 2011-12 season.
What better way to help create that new identity then to bring a in a player like Gabriel Landeskog, who can provide some tremendous leadership ability while being a very good to excellent talent?
The Winnipeg franchise is likely looking to piece together the kind of building blocks that would continue to spark interest in their redeveloping fan base, whether its re-signing Andrew Ladd or Zach Bogosian, or bringing in Gabriel Landeskog. All of these types of signings would be great ideas to help launch the new Winnipeg franchise towards potential greatness.
At pick number seven, it is very unlikely Landeskog would be available to Winnipeg, so trading up will be the route they need to take to get the former Kitchener Rangers Captain.
Colorado currently has two picks in the first round, at number two and 11. If they were to take a defenseman like Adam Larsson with the number two pick, it's not out of the question that the Avalanche could look to trade up from spot 11 if Landeskog begins to fall at all. It would give them two young Swedes to help add some skill to their roster.
It wouldn't be out of the question for the Avalanche to consider taking Landeskog at number two and worrying about a defenseman later. It likely would come down to who they value higher on their draft board—Larsson, Landeskog or someone else.
The Avalanche have young talent in the likes of Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, Paul Stastny and Davis Jones, as well as some other developing talent, and the two first round picks should help fill out the roster on the path towards eventual long-term success.
If Colorado wants to add Landeskog, they will have to decide between either taking him at number two, or looking to upgrade from their number 11 spot to secure him.
In the end, if the Avalanche want to ensure they add Gabriel Landeskog, they should make sure to take him at second overall, or get creative to move up from spot number eleven back into top five.
The New York Islanders have been adding building blocks the past couple of years and seem on the verge of possibly breaking out and making a push towards a playoff spot.
The team has added the likes of John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Andy MacDonald and P.A. Parenteau to help build the team to a place that has them seemingly on the brink of a breakout.
With the absence of Team Captain Doug Weight, who has missed time with injuries most of the last two seasons, the Islanders have the perfect opening for a guy like Gabriel Landeskog to fit.
To secure his rights, the Islanders would likely need to move up from spot number five, although it is possible he could drop that far under the right circumstances.
The rumor mill has been filled with reports that the Islanders are looking to trade down, but for all we know, that could easily be a smoke screen and there's no reason to think the Islanders wouldn't be looking to add a nice two-way player and leader like Gabriel Landeskog.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a tough team to figure out in terms of trying to get a grasp for what they might be doing in next week's draft. GM Brian Burke has a history of making bold moves, whether it was securing the likes of the Sedin twins in Vancouver or acquiring Phil Kessel in a blockbuster trade for the Leafs.
It's been well documented that Burke has been looking to trade up in this draft, perhaps using their first-round pick and packaging it with their second pick to move up.
Whether or not the Leafs would have enough assets (that they would want to give up) to put them in a position to grab Gabriel Landeskog remains to be seen, and it is also tough to know if Landeskog would even be the target of Burke and his potential moving up in the first round.
The Maple Leafs also have a share of young talent and there seems little doubt that Burke always likes to add not only young players with talent, but puts a lot of stock on players with good character. It certainly would not surprise me at all if Burke has his eyes on adding a player like Landeskog with his credentials.
The fact is a player like Gabirel Landeskog could help just about any—if not all—teams in the NHL. Trying to target which team might trade up for him is a bit unfair because the teams currently in the top five may very well be quite satisfied to select him and be more than happy with their selection.
It's part of the beauty of the draft, as even though there are a number of teams that love certain players, the fact is, just one team each year can pick a player.
Everyone should sit back and enjoy Friday's NHL Draft. It should be a great one, and it will be a draft class many will watch closely. It's hard to imagine the class could rival the great draft class of 2003, but there are a few people who think this draft could have the same kind of depth.
As a fan, the beautiful thing will be to sit back and enjoy watching all the talent develop.