Colorado Avalanche: A Look at 2nd Overall Draft Pick Gabriel Landeskog
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for excitement around Avs Nation these days is the addition of Gabriel Landeskog through the second pick of this year's entry draft.
The captain of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers finished last season having only played in 53 contests due to an injury. However, he still managed to rack up 66 points (36 goals, 30 assists) while maintaining a plus-27 rating.
Billed as a power forward who is highly skilled but also very physical, he brings a style of play the team desperately needs after losing Chris Stewart to the Blues in the Erik Johnson trade.
If Landeskog can hold his own in the league this year and provide the crash-the-net-type of production that Stewart was famous for, he could make the deal with the Blues look a lot nicer for the Avalanche.
Combined with the pure skill of Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, Landeskog's style will nicely complement a potent scoring line.
Here is some video that showcases Denver's newest rookie sensation.
Introducing Gabriel Landeskog
Landeskog made the jump to North America from the Swedish Elite League, where he first played as a 15-year-old.
The Avs rookie prospect is a proven leader, having worn the captain's "C" for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League in addition to Sweden's Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 teams.
Though he speaks perfect English, the Swede is far from all talk. He brings a nearly point-per-game average into training camp, having scored 112 points in 114 games during his last two OHL seasons.
Crashing the Net
The Avalanche have been criticized in recent seasons for not being willing to crash the net and score the tough, dirty goals.
Landeskog has shown he isn't afraid to drive to the net and "pick up the trash," but he also has the hands to score from tight locations. He brings a valuable physical presence to the Avs offense.
Vision and Speed
Landeskog has shown that in addition to being a physical scoring threat, he has the vision, creativity and speed to create plays in difficult situations.
He was consistently ranked as one of the top 10 available skaters by NHL scouting before the 2011 entry draft.
If he can carry these abilities through to the NHL, the 18-year-old winger has the potential to be a solid contributor, if not an elite player, for the Avalanche.
Comparisons to Greatness
Inevitably, Landeskog's physical, skilled style has drawn comparisons to another elite Avs player—Peter Forsberg.
We've seen time and time again, though, that the weight of expectations can extinguish the spark of a highly-touted prospect. Projecting an image onto a young player rarely brings good results.
If the Avalanche coaching staff can successfully maintain a reasonable level of expectation and allow him to develop into the player he has the potential to be, Landeskog could be a cornerstone of a successful return to the playoffs for the Avalanche.
And if he is even half as good as Peter the Great, there will be much rejoicing in Colorado.