Gabriel Landeskog, LW Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Born: November 23, 1992 in Stockholm, Sweden
Strengths: A good skater with a long, powerful stride and strong balance. Isn't a blazer, but does have nice jump and can separate. He's very strong on his skates and uses that lower leg drive to go right to the net, fight off defenders and make things happen in close. Good four-way change of direction. Hustles on every shift; plays with energy. Possesses an accurate shot. Underrated backhand-- can sky it up under the crossbar with limited time and space. Good passer and unselfish-- looks to find open teammates for scoring chances. Landeskog sees the ice well and distributes the puck as his pretty even split of goals and assists attests. Physical presence who relishes the hitting aspect of hockey and won't hesitate to fight if the situation warrants. Disciplined, plays in control despite his "angry" style. Tremendous leadership and intangibles: unparalleled work ethic, intelligence, sets the example with offensive and physical play, has mastered English and is "just one of the guys."
Weaknesses:Initial first-step quickness is fine, but could stand to improve to get a little faster out of the gate. Shot isn't overpowering-- even with its quick release and accuracy-- not all that heavy.
Open Ice feature on Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Murphy and Tobias Rieder at CHL Top Prospects Game (Open Ice Hockey)
NHL.com interview with Landeskog
Landeskog video/stills montage on You Tube (bestkeeper14)
(Having trouble uploading combine video on Blogger lately- will try to fix the issue soon)
Style compares to: Brendan Shanahan, Jarome Iginla
Draft prediction: Should be a top-three pick in the NHL draft, but will not slip past New Jersey based on the math. The strength of his game is in his completeness as a player: he can play the finesse game or grind it out, blocks shots, kills penalties, fights and does whatever his team needs him to do. He's compared a lot to Jarome Iginla, which is apropos, considering Landeskog looks up to the Calgary captain the most as his model player.
Projection: He's got the size and ability to project solidly into the top-six both as a power winger and special teams ace. But, his immeasurables are off the charts, so even if he doesn't live up to the offensive billing, he's going to be a solid third-line NHL player simply because he can play the finesse, high-energy, or grinding, in-your-face game. We see 35-goal, 70-80 point upside.
Background: 11 days younger than fellow Swede and high draft candidate Adam Larsson. Father, Tony played defense in the Swedish Elitserien. Has a fraternal twin sister, Beatrice. Originally property of the Djurgardens IF Stockholm hockey system, even playing for them for a few games in '08-09, becoming the youngest player ever to suit up for that Elite League team (3 games -1 assist) at age 16. Landeskog opted to come to North America in 2009 when the Kitchener Rangers traded for his rights with the Plymouth Whalers after that club made him the 3rd overall selection in the 2009 CHL Import Draft. Named Kitchener Rookie of the Year after 24 goals and 46 points in 61 games last season. Named to OHL All-Rookie Team. Named team captain by Kitchener Rangers Head Coach/General Manager Steve Spott on October 24, 2010. First European captain in team history and youngest Rangers captain in 30 years. Landeskog suffered a high ankle sprain just before the WJC, and then re-aggravated it in Sweden's first game against Norway, forcing him to miss about 6 weeks of the season. Finished the season with 36 goals, 66 points in 53 games. His hockey idols growing up: Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin. Now: Jarome Iginla, Mike Richards.
If Landeskog had his own soundtrack it would be: "Invincible"- Adelita's Way
"50,000 Unstoppable Watts"- Clutch
"Extremely fit and strong, wins nearly every corner battle and isn't afraid to dust it up when necessary. Great teammate who plays with a contagious enthusiasm for the game. Should put up much better numbers this year now that he'll be seeing first line and PP duty."- Red Line Report, September 2010
"As for Landeskog, he's precisely the kind of player the Colorado Avalanche want and need. I can envision him playing in the NHL next season with his refined power game, character and maturity. He doesn't have the elite skill level of other players in class, but as the total package, there are none better. At the beginning of the year, I saw him play and likened him to a Mats Sundin/Brendan Shanahan hybrid. He's not quite as big as both guys or as skilled, but is every bit as powerful and just a tough competitor and leader. You take a guy like Landeskog and put him with Matt Duchene and he's going to do some damage in the NHL. Maybe not right away, but I don't think you can miss with this player."- Kirk Luedeke/B2011DW on Landeskog to In Lou We Trust blog; May, 2011
"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."- Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan to NHL.com (full profile here)
“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.”- Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com
Gabriel Landeskog in his own words:
"He played hockey for a team named Hammarby, and he played two seasons in the Swedish Elite League. After that, he played all of his career in the second tier league. He's a big defenseman that liked to play physical and could also move the puck, from what I've heard. He's always been a really good mentor for me. He's always been there and given me advice on the way here. Just been a great mentor for me all my life not only on the ice but also off." Landeskog on his father, Tony, to NHL.com (full profile here)
"It was kind of where I stood. I had two ways to choose: I could play in the Swedish Elite League or come here. I felt that I wanted to try something new. Canadian junior hockey has always been one of my dreams. I felt that if I would come here to Kitchener and play for a team that really believed in me I would improve a lot more as a player and also as a person because moving from home and moving to another country would be really great experience."- Landeskog on leaving Sweden for the OHL to NHL.com
There's nothing soft about Landeskog's game by Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com feature
Landeskog blog post on his combine performance at hockeynewsdigest