Gabriel Landeskog has compiled a Calder Trophy-worthy resume this year — he’s the NHL rookie leader in shots on goal (258), tied for first in points (49), tied for first in goals (22) and is second in plus-minus (plus-20).
Now he’s got the backing of two head coaches.
The first one shouldn’t come as a surprise — it’s his own coach, Colorado bench boss Joe Sacco.
“Gabriel certainly has played like the rookie of the year all season long,” Sacco told the Vancouver Sun. “He’s been a very consistent player and he’s played in every situation possible for us. He does it with a strong work ethic. That’s the foundation of his success.”
Echoing those statements was Sacco’s coaching adversary for Wednesday’s Canucks-Avalanche contest at Rogers Arena — Alain Vigneault.
“He’s the best rookie in the league this year,” the Vancouver coach said. “In my mind, there are some other good rookies but he plays like a man right now and has a lot of skill to back it up.”
(It’s worth noting that Vigneault used to coach another rookie of the year candidate — Cody Hodgson — before he was shipped to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian. By all accounts, AV and CoHo didn’t have the greatest relationship.)
Part of Landeskog’s success comes from his physical attributes (6-foot-1, 204-pounds) — they’ve allowed him to thrive late in the season, when other rookies have hit the wall. In February he scored 13 points in 12 games and has nine points through 14 games in March.
That said, he isn’t biting on the Calder talk.
“Rookie of the year? That’s a loaded question,” Landeskog said. “I don’t know. Obviously it would be a big honour but, at the same time, our goal is to make the playoffs.
“If we don’t, I’ll take some time off and see what I did well and what I can do better for next season.”