Hockey Correspondent and Comedic Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
1. Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche
In some ways, Landeskog is a combination of Colorado Avalanche greats Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. A captain like Sakic and a Swede like Forsberg, he also plays the two-way game as well as anyone in the NHL and has a maturity that vastly exceeds his 20 years. Forsberg and Sakic weren’t bad at both ends of the ice, either. Last year, Landeskog won the Calder Trophy, united a fractured Avalanche squad, and fulfilled the satisfaction of everyone who had predicted his greatness since he was an all-world player with the Kitchener Rangers.
“Just a season ago, Gabriel Landeskog was a rookie trying to fit in,” wrote the Associated Press’s Pat Graham on Friday.
“Now, he’s the youngest captain in NHL history and hoping to help the Colorado Avalanche snap a two-season playoff drought. The talented forward is following in some pretty big footsteps of Avalanche leaders before him, names like Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and current teammate Milan Hejduk.
“But he’s not too worried about that because, ”all I can be is Gabe,” he said.”
Last year, Landeskog exploded in the second half and ended up with 52 points, a +20 on-ice rate, 270 shots, and an astounding 219 hits while only amassing 51 penalty minutes.
Nobody was as useful while also less a liability to his team than Landeskog in 2012. Expect the NHL to notice in 2013.
2. Pavel Datsyuk
The Selke Trophy wouldn’t be what it is without the annual Datsyuk nom. He’s still every hockey player’s favourite hockey player, and he’ll enter his first game as the expected winner of this award.
3. Jonathan Toews
All due respect to last year’s winner, Patrice Bergeron, but this award needs to grow into a medal that honours players who don’t just suffocate defensively, but who also chip and change the game every time they’re on the ice. Toews is dangerous from any position and in any situation. If you don’t believe me, then ask Canucks fans who watched him tie Game 7 shorthanded two years ago.
4. Patrice Bergeron
The defending champion deserves some respect. Simple as that.
5. David Backes
Expect another astoundingly sound season from the Blues, and expect their captain to be a major reason — maybe the reason — why.