By the time this list rolls around next year, don’t count on Gabriel Landeskog hanging around outside the top 40 or 50.
Though Landeskog didn’t come out of the NHL Entry Draft with as much publicity as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did, being the no. 2 overall pick behind the Edmonton Oilers young star, Landeskog was absolutely everything the Colorado Avalanche had hoped he would be, and probably a little more.
Landeskog didn’t waste any time in catching on at the top level, sticking with the Avalanche out of training camp and earning a permanent spot in the lineup. As the season wore on, he continued to see more minutes and an increased role, contributing in multiple aspects of the game.
The offensive numbers were there. He started slow on that end of the ice, but his offensive game picked up as the season went on. He scored 11 goals in the final two months of the season. His final offensive numbers totaled 52 points, including 22 goals, five of the game-winning variety. 12 of his points also came with the man advantage, with an even split of six goals and six assists.
Where Landeskog surprised folks was with his defensive ability and his physical game. He demonstrated a terrific two-way game, finishing with over 200 hits on the season and contributing on the penalty kill as well. With that type of effort on both ends of the ice, Landeskog quickly established himself as the total package.
However, that wasn’t the biggest news surrounding Landeskog in his rookie year. The main headline actually came shortly after the season ended. The Avalanche took the captaincy away from Milan Hejduk and handed it to the 20-year-old, officially making him the face of the franchise.
That is the way that Gabriel Landeskog heads into the new season as, whenever it begins. He’s the face of the Colorado Avalanche and their centerpiece as they look to get back to the postseason. With some solid pieces already around him, they could be poised to make some noise in the Western Conference.
But regardless of what they have around him at this time, it’s clear that the Avalanche have a star in Gabriel Landeskog. He’s top notch offensively, he brings an excellent two-way game, and he’s a contributor in all situations. He’s the total package, and with the Calder Trophy already under his belt, Avs fans look forward to seeing what he can do in the coming years in the Mile High City.