With the NHL Draft quickly approaching, and Florida likely to pick high in the 2011 Draft, we're going to take a more in-depth look at the top 7 players in this year's draft. Read on!
Photo by Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons, creative commons license.
Currently playing with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL (Pete DeBoer’s former place of employment), forward Gabriel Landeskog is currently projected by NHL scouts to be drafted second overall. A big, bruising power forward, Landeskog is a native of Sweden, but unlike majority of the Swedish prospects, he chose to come to North America at a younger age and play hockey in the OHL to develop. As such, Landeskog’s acclimation to the North American style of hockey has been much faster and more seamless than many European players.
A natural right wing, Landeskog also plays center for Kitchener, and has posted very admirable numbers in his first two seasons as a Ranger. His style of play is very simply a power forward, as Landeskog is often first in on the forecheck, fights hard in the corners, and brings a solid physical element to his play on every shift. At 6’, 207 lbs., his size is already an asset, and he tends to use his size on every shift, both to fight for the puck and to lay some highlight-reel hits. His vision and puck control abilities are less than that of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (another top pick that we’ll cover in a later post), but the element of both grittiness and toughness that he brings will allow his transition to the NHL to be a lot smoother than most prospects. Physically, he will still fill out further in the next several years and will continue to refine his scoring touch as time passes.
Landeskog was named captain of the Rangers this season, and is a very vocal player known for his leadership qualities. He’s projected to be a first or second line player, and he likely will be able to jump directly into the NHL unless the team that drafts him decides to keep him in juniors or the AHL for another season or two to continue his development. If the Panthers were to be fortunate enough to select Landeskog in the 2011 NHL Draft, it’s very likely GM Dale Tallon will give him a shot to make the roster out of camp, as Landeskog is the prototypical player in Tallon’s "blueprint": fast, big, competitive and a natural leader. However, it’s very likely that Landeskog will go in the top three, so if the Cats aren’t in the top three selections, Tallon would need to work the phones to move up and be able to draft him.