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Get To Know Kitchener's Gabriel Landeskog

by Kyle Shohara / Colorado Avalanche
It only took one season for Gabriel Landeskog to don the “C” on his sweater.  After a strong 2009-10 rookie campaign, Landeskog became the youngest player in 30 years to be named Captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers and the first European Captain in the 48-year history of the franchise.  It was quite the honor for Landeskog, considering he was just seventeen at the time.

His captaincy should come as no surprise – Landeskog captained Team Sweden’s under-16, under-17, and under-18 teams, and his wore the “C” for his Djurgarden youth squad at the age of six. 

In his sophomore season with the Rangers and first as Team Captain, Landeskog delivered, producing 36 goals and 66 points in 53 games before suffering a high ankle sprain in the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships that limited his performance down the stretch.  He returned to action in the postseason, leading Kitchener with ten points (six goals, four assists) in a hard fought seven-game series defeat to the Plymouth Whalers. 

Despite only playing 53 games due to injury, Landeskog is ranked second in Central Scouting’s final North American rankings before the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

“Gabriel does remind me of former Kitchener Ranger (and Philadelphia Flyers captain) Mike Richards,” said NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan.  “He sticks up for his teammates and is as strong at both ends of the rink as any player in the draft this year.”  Sullivan also adds that Landeskog has all the attributes needed to be a team leader and “competes as hard if not harder than anybody.” 
Landeskog shares a laugh at the 2011 NHL Scouting Combine. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Many consider Landeskog the most NHL-ready prospect eligible in this year’s draft. 

“Landeskog doesn’t need one game in the American league next year,” NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards said, in reference to being groomed in the American Hockey League.  “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 the Stanley Cup.”

In addition to his leadership qualities, Landeskog’s on-ice talent makes him a scoring threat on every shift.  Built like a rock, Landeskog is currently listed at six feet tall and 207 pounds and isn’t afraid of throwing his weight around.  A strong, powerful, and swift skater, Landeskog is a dynamic play-making power forward who also has the ability to create scoring chances with his sheer tenacity and grit, and lists Calgary’s Jarome Iginla and Philadelphia’s Mike Richards as his role models for their leadership and on-ice game. 

Much like Iginla and Richards, Landeskog sticks up for his teammates and fights when needed.  He dropped the gloves three times during the 2010-11 regular season, matching his total from a year before. 

In an interview with the NHL Network, Kitchener Rangers Head Coach and General Manager Steve Spott had this to say about Gabriel Landeskog:  “I think he’ll be a captain in the NHL one day. I believe that.  When there’s something to be said, he says it.  For me, he is the real deal.”

Below are highlights of his 2010-11 season:
- Led the Kitchener Rangers in goals (36) and plus-minus (+27), and ranked third in PPG (11) despite an ankle injury that limited him to 53 regular season games.

- Co-led the Rangers in the postseason in goals (six) and ranked second in points (10).

- Had a season-high seven-game point streak from Oct. 29, 2010 – Nov. 16, 2010, scoring 8-7=15 points in that span.

- At the NHL Scouting Combine, Landeskog finished above last season’s averages:  33 push-ups (last year: 26.1), 150-pound bench press x11 (last year: 10.7).

Did you know?

- Prior to joining the Kitchener Rangers, Landeskog debuted in the Swedish Elite League at 16 years and 90 days making him the youngest player in Djurgarden’s history.  He recorded (0-1=1) in three games.

- Landeskog, along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dougie Hamilton, and Jonathan Huberdeau, had the opportunity to attend the Stanley Cup Finals, meet the players, and film a segment with CBC’s Don Cherry.  Landeskog admits he was speechless after meeting Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

- His idol growing up was two-time Stanley Cup Champion and longtime Colorado Avalanche forward, Peter Forsberg.  He admired Forsberg’s physicality and overall skill.

- Although English is his second language, Landeskog is fluent and his accent is barely noticeable.

-His father, Tony, was a defenseman for Hammarby in the Swedish Elite League from 1977-1985. 

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