SHOWCASE: RN-H AND LANDESKOG CHAPTER I

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog are opposites who will be forever linked and compared by virtue of when they were selected at the 2011 Entry Draft in Minnesota. That much we do know.

As to whether the Edmonton Oilers got the better player in the cerebral Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall pick or the Colorado Avalanche hit the jackpot with the bullish Landeskog with the second overall pick won’t be decided for many for years, of course.

Still, with Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog off to outstanding starts in their first NHL seasons, their first-ever head-to-head meeting as pros tonight at the Pepsi Center in the 10th NHL game for both youngsters does hold some intrigue.

Early on, as was the case going into the draft, there’s been little to choose between Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog, the stud Swede Jonathan Willis of Oilersnation suggested would be a better selection with the first overall pick in an article Feb. 5 oilersnation.com/2011/2/5/the-first-overall-pick-avoid-nugent-hopkins

While Nugent-Hopkins has more than lived up to his advanced billing so far with 5-4-9 in nine games, Landeskog, thought by many scouts to be the most "NHL-ready" player going into the draft, hasn’t exactly looked like a consolation prize with 4-2-6 in his first nine games.

CALDER CANDIDATES

Based on their first nine games, Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog look like they’ll garner an a lot of votes for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie this season. They’re distinctly different players, of course.

Nugent-Hopkins, 18, as Oilers fans are seeing now, was a unanimous choice by Edmonton’s scouting staff because of his on-ice vision and ability to think the game and distribute the puck. He hasn’t disappointed between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

Landeskog, who has been playing left wing on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and Daniel Winnik in Denver, is more along the lines of Hall — a dynamic winger who likes to lug the rubber to the net.

At six-foot-one and 204 pounds, Landeskog is a more robust player. He loves to shoot the puck — he leads all NHL rookies with 36 shots on goal. While Landeskog managed just 36 goals with Kitchener of the OHL in 2010-11, he got that many in just 53 games.

Like Hall, some hockey people thought Landeskog might be a perfect complement to some of Edmonton’s smaller, skilled forwards. Tonight, they’ll line-up across from him. I’m guessing he’ll be a handful.

First glimpse. Should be fun.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • John Chambers

    Colorado and Edmonton more or less reversed their franchise-defining lottery picks. The Avs picked the sublime-passing centre in Duchesne and added the ruggedized Landeskog after.

    That said I think the Nuge will turn out to be a better player than the Douche, while Hall is clearly superior to Skogs.

    Our failure is better than their failure.

    • “As to whether the Edmonton Oilers got the better player in the cerebral Nugent-Hopkins with the first overall pick or the Colorado Avalanche hit the jackpot with the bullish Landeskog with the second overall pick won’t be decided for many for years, of course.”

      “Early on, as was the case going into the draft, there’s been little to choose between Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog . . .”

      “While Nugent-Hopkins has more than lived up to his advanced billing so far with 5-4-9 in nine games, Landeskog, thought by many scouts to be the most “NHL-ready” player going into the draft, hasn’t exactly looked like a consolation prize with 4-2-6 in his first nine games.”

      “Like Hall, some hockey people thought Landeskog might be a perfect complement to some of Edmonton’s smaller, skilled forwards.”

      This is the first NHL meeting between the player the Oilers took first overall and the player some people thought they should have or could have taken. I haven’t offered any opinion in the item suggesting Willis was right or wrong. He wrote what he wrote. So, what is your problem with it?

  • GrillBoss

    Can anyone explain why Barker got a penalty. This league is going to be Ringette soon the way things are going.

    Oh ya, take that all you Gagner haters. Nice goal Barkster….

      • Wax Man Riley

        We could have gotten both of them…..

        You just trade Hemsky+ for Columbus’ #8(or Philly if it was at the draft table).Then you trade that #8 with our LA pick and Gagner+ for Florida’s #3.Then you trade the #3 with Omark+ for the #2 and maybe throw Chorney in if you have to sweeten the deal.

        Easy, peasy…..

        ……right Quicks?

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          For me the scenario in which we got that many lotto picks is as fanciful as imagining a team with the greats of the past all playing together in their prime… fun, but without connection to reality.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Amen brother.

          The future belongs to those who are prepared to do whatever it takes. It would have been difficult to do this all in one trade, a two swap approach could’ve put us in a postion to have both Hopkins and Larsson/Couturier.

          Once every 35 yrs or so, burn it to the ground and do what needs to be done. Should’ve sold the farm last summer. Probably could’ve been done for just a player or two on the injured list right now.

  • james_dean

    Larsson is playing nearly 25 minutes a night for New Jersey is likely the best performing player to come out of last years draft so far. This, of course, is NOT that all surprising.

    By next year, it might be a different story.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    What really stands out for me is how potent last year’s draft was. That top three is amazing and all so young still. Imagine a team with RHN, Land, and Lar on it? that’s pretty dynamic.

    I didn’t get to watch to game tonight. But the highlights (for what it’s worth) suggested Land figured in more of the game (partly due to eating a Sutton Crunch for dinner)

    [EDIT] just realized Larsson went 4th. Huberdeau stayed in Jr.

    • I like how Landeskog didn’t dive and didn’t whine after Sutton clipped him with the elbow (looked like a bit of a head shot that at least might be reviewed).

      He shoved some packing up his nose to stop the bleeding and kept playing his game.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I really hope we don’t have to see RNH take one of those. he’s quick and feisty… but I’m not sure he’d recover so quickly… that said I don’t see him as the Lapierre type to roll around excessively.

          Hall actually got tagged pretty good in that nuck game by Edler (if memory serves) and he was pretty upset. He didn’t embellish it or anything but he did smash his stick on the ice… although it’s hard to tell if he was upset at Edler or himself for giving Edler such an open shot.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Thanks for the first hand insight. Must be nice to not have to speculate like us underlings.

            from the memory ether I just remembered he got a pretty nasty shot to the ankle in the final 8 secs. from burrows too. Clearly the nucks pre-game discussion revolved around keying in on Hall. whatever frustration they managed to mount couldn’t keep him from being effective and on the score sheet. +1000 for truculence.

            luckily we have him otherwise I think the argument for drafting Landeskog over RNH would have a lot more authority.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        As Roughneck up thread mentioned he plays like he comes from the WHL (is the OHL close enough?) rather than (warning I’ll be channeling d. Cherry for a moment) some wet blanket euro types. from what i’m hearing, he seems quite impressive.

        But then again, Nordic players seem to be more stiff upper lip types than their continental brethren. I don’t recall Tikkanen diving and Forsberg was tough as nails (to pull two names at random)… it’s the czechs and russians that go in for that stuff generally.

        (excuse my generalizations if you are prone to offence; or intend to crush them with counter-exempla)

        By the way… what the H is that lady doing in that pic… i assume checking body fat or something… but it has every appearance of some pain threshold test: can you withstand the torments of a burly-armed lady pinching your pecs with some antiquated torture device in front of a room of hockey reporters… well, can you??

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Sutton’s going to pay for his hit on Landeskog. He’s been called to New York by Shanahan, so he’s looking at four games or more for a suspension.