Leading up to the 2011 draft, Flordiapanthers.com will be highlighting some of the top prospects to look out for. At number 3, the Panthers have a lot of players to choose from. What direction and who will they pick?
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THE SKINNY: Ranked as the number two skater by C.S.S., Gabriel Landeskog boasts an impressive combination of talent and leadership. In just 53 games this season, Landeskog managed 36 goals and a plus-27 rating. He was the youngest captain of the Kitchener Rangers in the past 30 years, and claimed the distinction of being the first European captain in the 48-year franchise. Landeskog also captained the U-16, U-17, and U-18 Sweden national teams.
Landeskog debuted in the Swedish Elite League at 16 years and 90 days old, becoming the youngest playing in Djurgarden’s history. Hit father, Tony, was a defenseman in the Swedish Elite League, playing from 1977 until 1985 with Hammarby.
NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan: "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."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: "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."
NHL Team: Detroit Red Wings NHL Player: Mats Sundin Goal Celebration: Arms out and look to the sky Movie: The Blindside Book: "My way back to life" by Lance Armstrong Home-Cooked Meal: Spaghetti and Swedish meatballs Activity Away From The Rink: Waterskiing
Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson of Skelleftea and Kitchener Rangers captain Gabriel Landeskog are also prime candidates to go No. 1. Like Nugent-Hopkins, each made it through Friday's fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine unscathed. Tenacious Landeskog Breaks Swede Stereotype (05.06.11) Gabriel Landeskog of the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers isn't your typical swift-skating Swede.
He comes with a lunch pail, packs plenty of power and knows the English language as well, if not better, than most Europeans playing professionally today.