The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club selected forward Gabriel Landeskog
with the second overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft held tonight at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Landeskog, 18, is the Avalanche’s highest draft pick since the team moved to Colorado in 1995. The previous high draft pick came in 2009, when the club selected Matt Duchene
with the third overall choice. This marks the first time Colorado/Quebec has ever drafted second overall. The Avalanche/ Nordiques franchise drafted first overall three times, 1989 (Mats Sundin), 1990 (Owen Nolan) and 1991 (Eric Lindros).
“We are very excited about adding Gabriel to our organization,” said Avalanche Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Pracey
. “He plays with character, he competes, he has tremendous skill and he plays at a high intensity level. He is a physical player who initiates the contact and sticks up for his teammates. There is a lot to like about his overall game.”
Landeskog, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, captained the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) this past season, becoming the first European captain in the 48-year history of the Rangers franchise. He was named captain at the age of 17 on Oct. 24, 2010, becoming the youngest player in 30 years to be named captain of the Kitchener Rangers.
Despite an ankle injury shortening his season to just 53 games, Landeskog led Kitchener with 36 goals and finished third with 66 points (36g/30a) in 53 games. The left winger finished second on the Rangers in plus/minus with a +27 rating. In the first round of the 2011 playoffs, Gabriel shared the team lead with six goals and ranked second with 10 points in the seven-game series loss to Plymouth.
Landeskog was rated by NHL Central Scouting as the No. 2 overall North American skater entering the 2011 Entry Draft. He was the top-ranked skater at the mid-term rankings.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be picked by the Colorado Avalanche,” said Landeskog
. “Being part of an NHL team is a dream come true and I’m so excited.”
Landeskog spent his first season in North America in 2009-10, tallying 46 points (24g/22a) in 61 games with Kitchener. He ranked third among OHL rookies in both goals and points. Landeskog debuted in the Swedish Elite League in 2008-09 at 16 years and 90 days, making him the youngest player in Djurgarden’s history. He played three games with Djurgarden, recording one assist.
Landeskog served as an alternate captain for Sweden at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, but only played one game before being sidelined with a high ankle sprain. He competed for Sweden at the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, finishing second on the team with four goals in six games. He was also selected to play in the 2009 Under-20 Four Nations Tournament in Finland. Landeskog he wore the ‘C’ as captain for Sweden’s under-16, under-17, and under-18 teams.
Says NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan
: "Gabriel does remind me of former Kitchener Ranger 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."
Gabriel’s dad, Tony, a defenseman, also played in the Swedish Elite League for Hammarby (1977-1985). Landeskog’s hockey idol growing up was former Avalanche forward Peter Forsberg.