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Kitchener captain Gabriel Landeskog will return to ice

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 12:53 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer / Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Kitchener Rangers captain Gabriel Landeskog, the No. 1-rated North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting's mid-term report on Jan. 10, will be in the lineup on Friday for his team's Ontario Hockey League matchup against the Plymouth Whalers.

"We're good to go, he's had almost two full weeks with contact now and for me it was more mental than physical and he feels this is the time to go and he's ready to go," Kitchener coach Steve Spott told NHL.com.

The news comes one day after Spott announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs had assigned Jerry D'Amigo to Kitchener, the team that chose him in the 12th round of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection. D'Amigo had signed a three-year entry level contract with the Leafs in August, 2010, after being selected by the team in the sixth round (No. 158 overall) in 2009.

"With Jerry, and now Gabriel, there's a good buzz in the city so it should be a fun building tonight," Spott said.

"I really look forward to playing in front of the home crowd again," Landeskog told NHL.com on Wednesday. "Just
that feeling to step out onto the ice is something that I really look forward to right now."

A high ankle sprain forced Landeskog to miss all but one game for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship and required him to relinquish his roster spot in the Top Prospects Game -- to Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's. Landeskog has 25 goals, 45 points and a plus-24 rating in 32 OHL games. Despite not playing since Dec. 18, he still leads his team in goals and is third in points.

Central Scouting rated Landeskog the No. 1 skater in the Ontario Hockey League in its preliminary rankings release in November. Landeskog is the second European-born and -trained player to captain an OHL team -- New York Islanders prospect Tomas Marcinko, a native of Slovakia, captained the Barrie Colts in 2007-08.

Landeskog admitted being surprised with the No. 1 ranking last month.

"I was pretty surprised, to be honest," he said. "I wasn't expecting it at all but, to me, it was just something that showed me that I was doing good things on the ice. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. At the same time, it's just a list and you want on be on the top of the rankings at the end of June and not in January, so you have to just stay on track and keep doing what your doing."