Gabriel Landeskog's stock is surging
The Kitchener Rangers are guaranteed to produce one of the top five picks in the 2011 draft, probably two in the top 20 and maybe three in the top 40. Going into the season the Rangers figured to be one of the Memorial Cup favorites, but then lost 18-year-old Jeff Skinner to the Carolina Hurricanes and 19-year-old Jeremy Morin to Chicago's AHL affiliate in Rockford. As Kitchener's top draft-eligible prospect Gabriel Landeskog notes, "Any time you lose more than 90 goals in two players, it's very hard to replace."
While his achievements last season prompted a profile by the Draft Blog over the summer, it figured that, without the surrounding talent to showcase his stuff, Landeskog's performance and production were going to take a hit. In fact, it might turn out Skinner and Morin's absence might accelerate Landeskog's development and elevate his draft stock. That's how it's looking right now -- not that it's the Rangers' advantage.
With Landeskog serving as must-see viewing for scouts, it means two other draft-eligible prospects are going to get a lot of looks: D Ryan Murphy and C Tobias Rieder.
I took in Sunday's game out in Kitchener with the Rangers facing one of the stronger teams in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa 67's. Though the 67's were playing their third game in less than three days, they came out with a shootout win, with L.A. Kings prospect Tyler Toffoli clinically finishing matters in the SO. It wasn't the greatest showing for Kitchener as a team -- a sleep-walking first period saw the Rangers fall behind two goals and they squandered a two-minute 5-on-3 in which the best scoring chance was a shorthanded breakaway. Nevertheless, the Rangers rallied and their coach Steve Spott called it a "30-minute effort." Still, the game was an eyeful for scouts scoping Landeskog.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener
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