The Buffalo Sabres hold the second overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. This marks the franchise’s highest draft pick since 1987 and only the second time since then that Buffalo holds a top-five pick. So far in this series, we’ve taken a look at recent second-overall selections from the past two years. Today, let’s look at 2011 second-overall pick Gabriel Landeskog.
Heading into the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Gabriel Landeskog was an 18-year-old right winger coming out of his second season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. He had just finished a 66-point regular season, notching 36 goals and 30 assists in 53 games, and a seven-game playoff effort that saw him score 10 points.
Landeskog came into the draft ranked second among North American skaters, behind eventual first-overall selection Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
After he was selected second overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, Landeskog immediately made the NHL squad from the get-go. He appeared in all 82 games of that year, making his NHL debut on October 8, 2011 against the Detroit Red Wings. Landeskog would score his first NHL goal in his third game, an October 12th matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
His rookie season saw Landeskog notch 22 goals, including five game-winning goals, and 30 assists for 52 points in 82 games. That effort would win him the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s top rookie, edging him out over Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Henrique.
Just months after being named the NHL’s top rookie, Landeskog was presented with another honor, being named the captain of the Colorado Avalanche. This made him the youngest player in NHL history to be named a permanent team captain, at 19 years, 286 days old.
Of course, Landeskog’s first season as Avalanche captain was severely shortened by the lockout. He still managed to put up 17 points in 36 games, scoring nine goals and adding eight assists.
This season, in his first 82-game year as captain, Landeskog scored 65 points in 81 games, including 26 goals and 39 assists. He also had four points (3-1) in seven playoff games with the Avs.
This year also saw Landeskog represent Sweden in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. At 21, he was the youngest player on the Swedish roster – a full 20 years younger than Daniel Alfredsson, the oldest player on the squad. Sweden won silver, and Landeskog had one assist and nine shots in six games.
Gabriel Landeskog and the Avalanche may be done for this year, but they’ll certainly look to build off this year’s performance and advance further in the playoffs – hopefully to a Cup win – next season. Could next year – just four years after his draft – be the year that Gabriel Landeskog’s name is called out by league commissioner Gary Bettman to “come and get the Stanley Cup?”