Today in the NHL, if you are in the top 5 on the annual membership draft, there are certain expectations that you could play in the NHL right away. You can browse the latest drafts and find a multitude of players who transitioned from the summer stage to ice jumping just a few months later to become the next wave of big stars in the NHL.
For the second overall win in the 2011 draft, Gabriel Landeskog, he has a future teammate in Colorado’s Matt Duchene, who did just that back in 2009. At 6’0 “207 pounds, Landeskog is already built like an NHL power forward and with the type of game he can bring, he could instantly give the Avalanche lineup a huge boost. With the top 6 including Duchene, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, there is room to crack the lineup to be a force.
One who believes Landeskog is currently NHL eligible is Kitchener Rangers coach Steve Spott, Landeskog’s junior hockey coach. Taunt tells Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times that the winger is ready to roll for the Avalanche right away and doesn’t expect to be back at Kitchener next season.
“I spoke to Greg Sherman [Avalanche GM];; They were pretty up there and they were honest with me that they expect Gabe to be in Colorado next year, “said Spott. “You’re going to have a younger group of people so where we have him we won’t get him back. It’s unfortunate for Kitchener Ranger fans, but that’s our job. “
In last year’s draft, five players (Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Burmistrov and Cam Fowler) made it straight to the NHL. This year’s draft class is a little more confused about who could stay and who could go back to juniors and college hockey, but with Landeskog’s size, skills, and opportunity ahead of him, he has a great chance to make a great first impression.
The opportunity for Landeskog to jump in directly is there. Outside of Duchene, Stastny and Hejduk, the Avalanche have greats like David Jones, TJ Galiardi and Chuck Kobasew with whom they can fight for time in the top 6. If Peter Mueller can fully recover from concussion problems he would certainly have a place in that mix, but there is no schedule, if any, of when he can play again. These other players aren’t all that impressive, and if Landeskog can endorse the idea of seizing the day he can be a top-line player for Colorado right away.