The Kitchener Rangers missed Gabriel Landeskog, who was out until just a few weeks ago with a high ankle sprain suffered in action at the World Jr. Championship in late December.
Landeskog is the team's captain, the first European player to hold that distinction in a storied OHL franchise's history. He's as refined a player as you can find at age 18...a very good skater who plays a distinct North American style and is an ultra-competitor.
Talked to an NHL scout recently who told me that if the Bruins want to have a reasonable shot at Landeskog, they'll need to be in the top-three to make it happen. Granted, his overall upside may not be as high as others at the top of the draft, but when it comes to the complete package both on and off the ice, there may not be a better player available in class.
"I saw an article that mentioned that he idolizes Jarome Iginla and that's when it hit me- Landeskog is a very good comparable to Iginla," the NHL scout said. "Iginla is who he is because he does everything; he scores, he fights, he's a leader and character guy. That's what Landeskog is for Kitchener."
We're still down with the observation that Landeskog is a hybrid of Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan, but Iginla works as well.
Since returning to the Rangers lineup on Feb. 4th (his previous OHL game was played Dec. 18th) Landeskog has 6 goals and 13 points in 10 games-- not bad for a player coming off the injury he had. He didn't score in his first four games back, but has hit for six in six since. He now has 31 goals and 58 points in 42 games. Contrast those numbers to Jared Knight's from a year ago (36 goals, 57 points in 63 games), and you can see why this Swede is going to be such a hot commodity in St. Paul.
The draft blog already made the case why Landeskog makes sense for the Bruins on so many levels here. For the Bruins, the chance to make Landeskog a potential bookend winger on a line with Milan Lucic or Nathan Horton is something they would likely jump at. Also, he's so advanced at this point, that he may be ready to play in the NHL next season, even with concerns over the way Tyler Seguin's development has gone. You have to remember that the two are completely different players in terms of style and substance.
But, if Landeskog keeps the scoring up, they may not even get a shot at him picking at three if all broke right for them with the Toronto pick.
So, the question becomes: will the B's try and trade up a couple of spots to get him if they are at four, five or later, or will they stand pat and take who they get wherever their pick ends up?
There's much hockey to be played yet, but the picture is coming into focus.