Still only 21 years old, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog already has the look of an excellent player entering his prime, although he isn't quite there yet. It's scary (in a good way) to imagine how good he will be when he actually reaches his prime. Then again, the same could be said for several of the young stars on this rising team.
Last season Landeskog posted 26 goals and 39 assists for 65 points, while compiling a plus-21 rating as he led the way for the Avalanche. He is becoming a formidable force in the offensive zone with his elite combination of size and talent. It was clear from his rookie season that he was going to be a "bull" of a player, as color analyst Peter McNabb once put it. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy two years before Nathan MacKinnon did the same. He became the youngest captain in NHL history shortly after winning the Calder, and is currently the youngest active captain in the league. Now, as the pieces on the team are falling into place and as Landeskog gains more experience, he is ready to bulldoze a path to playoff success for his team.
In the latter stages of last season, Landeskog found tremendous chemistry with Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon, and as the three of them played on a line together, they became Colorado's most effective trio. In the playoffs, the Landeskog-Stastny-MacKinnon line produced 24 points in seven games, a performance that would likely have meant those three would still me linemates next year if Stastny had not left via free agency. Now that line will have to change, but the personnel to do so effectively has been brought in.
While the faster, slicker stars like Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon will probably get the most attention, Gabriel Landeskog will continue to be the central support pillar in the Avalanche foundation. He is arguably the most complete player currently on the team, and his career trajectory still has a long way to climb.Tags: Calder Memorial Trophy, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Gabriel Landeskog, Hockey, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, NHL, Paul Stastny