Colorado Avalanche Player Grade: Gabriel Landeskog

Oct 30, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) watches the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) watches the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche left wing, and captain, Gabriel Landeskog is the penultimate player to receive his grade for the 2015-16 season. Is his C+ surprising?

Left wing Gabriel Landeskog is the captain for the Colorado Avalanche. He was named the captain prior to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, the youngest man to ever be named an NHL captain. Then-coach Joe Sacco was working at least partially on the advice of then-captain Milan Hejduk.

Landeskog was the Colorado Avalanche’s second-overall pick in the 2011 draft. He also won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year at the conclusion of the 2011-12 draft.

Interestingly, though it’s the team’s habit to do so, Gabriel was never matched with an older player as a roommate/mentor. Most likely the rationale was that he’d already moved halfway across the world at the age of 16 to play hockey in Canada and had been living with a billet family for two years. Additionally, he’s always been accounted as very mature for his age. (I’ve often thought he’s naturally 33 in temperament, though I’ve recently scaled that back to 27.)

In any case, Landeskog is a four-time 20+ goal scorer. The only time in his career that he missed that mark was in the lockout season. His greatest goal total was 26, of course accrued during the golden 2013-14 season.

Landeskog is a top-six forward and one of the core players of the Colorado Avalanche. His partners changed throughout the season, but he skated a lot with Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg. He’s also shown chemistry with fellow Scandanavian Mikko Rantanen. A power forward, Gabe is on the first penalty kill and first/second power play units.

More Player Grades:

Gabriel Landeskog’s Statistics

From Sporting Charts:

colorado avalanche
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog’s 2015-16 statistics from Sporting Charts. Photo credit: Sporting Charts /

Player Grade: C+

I initially had in mind to give Gabriel Landeskog a lower grade. Indeed, I was so mad at the players, and at Landeskog, at the end of the season, that I wrote that I hoped the Colorado Avalanche traded him:

Related Story: Is Landeskog More Valuable as Trade Bait?

The truth of the matter is, if Landeskog were any other than the captain, he should have the second-highest grade on the team because he was the second-highest scorer with 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists.) However, he’s not just any player — he wears the mantle of captaincy.

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown” and all that, Landeskog ends up being judged by his leadership as much as by his play. The two are seen to be intertwined, and they are.

Gabriel Landeskog didn’t have one of his better seasons for leadership this year. He really seemed to have trouble getting his footing early in the year. I wonder if it has something to do with Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise trying to enucleate Landeskog followed shortly by his taking a puck to the face:

Landeskog suffered a terrible concussion at the hands — or elbow — of then-San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart a couple years ago. I’ve got to wonder if “having his bell rung” twice early on in the season didn’t, in fact, rattle him.

Then there’s the matter of his two suspensions. On the face of it, getting suspended twice in a year is bad. However, I don’t agree with suspending Landeskog for this hit on Boston Bruin Brad Marchand:

It looks like an accident. What’s more, Landeskog skates right over to apologize, and Marchand sucker punches him. Obviously he wasn’t hurt.

The second suspension, for his hit on Anaheim Ducks Simon Depres was bad. However, Landeskog might not have received a full three games if he hadn’t been suspended previously for the Marchand hit.

Landeskog caught a lot of flak for the Depres hit, and he was deeply sorry. However, after reading an article by Paul Bissonnette — himself the giver of many questionable hits — I have to acknowledge that the game is much faster that I can imagine. And maybe Landeskog pressed in the wrong way.

In any case, Landeskog had a tough season, but there were certainly players on the Colorado Avalanche who were worse at fulfilling their roles.

More About Gabriel Landeskog:

Gabriel Landeskog’s Future

More from Mile High Sticking

Gabriel Landeskog is signed with the Colorado Avalanche through 2021. He has a no-trade clause.

The Avalanche front offices are going to be evaluating all the players, especially the core, to ensure they are willing to learn how to play “the right way” — play to win. Landeskog’s play and leadership have been inconsistent.

However, Gabriel Landeskog is young, just 23 years old. I can’t think the Colorado Avalanche are going to give up on him just yet — not when he has the potential to still have a breakout season. You can’t risk having that season be with another team.

What’s more, head coach Patrick Roy has praised Landeskog’s leadership, a quality the coach holds very dear in his vision for the Avalanche. It’s true he may be pumping Gabriel up, but not to the point of inflating him. Clearly Roy sees potential in Landeskog for him to grow into the exact captain Colorado needs.

I think Gabriel Landeskog’s future with the Colorado Avalanche is secure, at least for now. He, like all the other players, will have to show some improvement moving forward.