Draft Week: Gabriel Landeskog

With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft coming up this Friday, SenShot will take a look at the five forward prospects that will be on Ottawa’s radar come draft night. Today, we examine Gabriel Landeskog.

Swedish machine!

Kitchener Rangers’ captain and power forward, Gabriel Landeskog is any teams dream. A cornerstone of any franchise, Landeskog is a born leader on and off the ice. Swedish born and North-American assimilated; Landeskog blends the skillful game of Swedes with the rough and tumble aspects of the North American style. At 17-years old, he was the youngest player in 30 years to be named Captain of the Kitchener Rangers and was the first European Captain in the 48-year history of the Rangers franchise.

His leadership qualities extend to most of his career as he wore the ‘C’ for Sweden’s under-16, under-17, and under-18 teams, and he even captained Djurgarden at the age of six. Landeskog was also the youngest player in Djurgarden’s history when he debuted in the Swedish Elite League in 2008-09 at 16 years and 90 days. Despite an ankle injury shortening his season to just 53 games, Landeskog led Kitchener with 36 goals, 66 points and a plus-27 rating. Prior to his ankle injury, Landeskog was on pace for a 50-goal season. In the first round of the 2011 playoffs, he led all Rangers forwards with ten points (6-4–10) in the seven-game series loss to Plymouth.

The 6’1”, 207 lbs left winger took the unusual route to the NHL for a Swedish player as he elected to play junior hockey in Canada rather than stay in Sweden. His choice was due to the fact that his style was more suited to the North American game and he thought that he could develop more in Canada and play a more significant role here. Already physically developed beyond his years, Landeskog is ready to step into the NHL next season and perform.

Landeskog has been compared to former Kitchener Rangers’captain, Mike Richards as both play an in-your-face style. Always sticking up for teammates, Landeskog is not afraid to drop the gloves as he fought six times last season. A vocal leader, Landeskog has ‘future captain of an NHL team’ written all over him. Here’s what the experts say:

As per TSN‘s Bob McKenzie,

Strengths - tremendous work ethic and leadership skills, strong and tenacious, plays a North-American style of game, possesses hard shot and good vision. A very safe pick, will contribute soon to an NHL team, perhaps next season.

Weaknesses – Good skill, but not on the same level talent-wise as Nugent-Hopkins or Huberdeau, gets it done more with hard work than high-end skill. Skating is above average, but not at an elite level.

NHL Upside – the safest pick in the draft – he’ll be a consummate pro who can play on any line and fulfill any role asked of him. Future NHL captain.

As per The Hockey News Draft Preview,

 If he didn’t care about defense, he’d score 50 goals just for the fun of it. His injury forced him to miss 15 games, but he still managed 36 goals. He probably won’t put up numbers that big as an NHL player, but he excels in all areas of the game. Put him with offensive players, he’ll complement them. Or move him down onto the checking line and he’ll do that.

NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan

“Gabriel does remind me of former Kitchener Ranger (and Philadelphia Flyers captain) Mike Richards. He sticks up for his teammates and is as strong at both ends of the rink as any player in the draft this year. He competes as hard if not harder than anybody. He’s got all the assets that you need to be a team leader and, for a potential No. 1 overall, that’s what you would want.”

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards

“He is a good-size guy who is solid on his skates, not afraid to take the puck to the net or battle for it along the boards. His skating is very good in all areas. He plays the game with so much passion, he plays the game hard, he’s a great mentor for players that are younger and older, maturity beyond his years. (He) doesn’t need one game in the American league next year — he should step right into the NHL. I think the team that gets him next year is going to get a player that helps them win a Stanley Cup.”

McKenzie has Landeskog ranked fourth overall, while The Hockey News has him at third overall, and the International Scouting Services has him at fifth overall. Here’s a video of Landeskog courtesy of NHL.com.

If Landeskog was selected by the Sens, what should Sens Army expect?

Landeskog is a dream for Sens Army. They see him as the perfect mix of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson and Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. He has fire in his eyes and the will to win at any cost. He would be the perfect prospect to build around as he is future NHL captain material and would be able to put a team on his back.

If he were to get drafted by Ottawa, Landeskog would be able to slide onto any of Ottawa’s top three lines. He could be the two-way winger for Jason Spezza, play a shut down role against teams best lines, or he could bring tons of energy from the third line.

The only knock on Landeskog is that he does not have elite level talent and has a ceiling of a great second liner. Can Ottawa risk a high pick on a player that may top out as a second liner? It’s a difficult decision, but one must look to the current age of our core, and the turnover we will have in a few years. Landeskog can help lead the next wave of future Sens (especially the Swedish content we have coming).

For Ottawa to be able to draft Landeskog, we will have to trade up. And like Jonathan Huberdeau, is Landeskog worth the price to move up? If he is, look for GM Byran Murray to pull off a huge deal to land the potentail future captain of your Ottawa Senators. Could he be the next Ottawa Senator?

Check out the other prospects we have examined so far: Sean CouturierRyan StromeMika Zibanejad and Jonathan Huberdeau

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft goes Friday and Saturday in Minnesota. Stay tuned to SenShot as we will provide complete coverage of the draft and of all the prospects selected.

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Tags: 2011 NHL Entry Draft Daniel Alfredsson Gabriel Landeskog Jarome Iginla Jason Spezza Jonathan Huberdeau Mika Zibaejad Mike Richards Ottawa Senators Ryan Strome Sean Couturier

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