Eyes on top NHL draft prospect

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

There’s no name or jersey number stitched into the white Ottawa Senators sweater hanging on Gabriel Landeskog’s bedroom wall back in Stockholm.

That could soon change.

The top-ranked North American prospect heading into this summer’s NHL entry draft said it would be “something special” to be selected by the Senators, the team he’s been rooting for since catching his first NHL game at the former Corel Centre while visiting at age 11, when he competed in the Bell Capital Cup.

“It was great for me coming over here for the first time (as a youngster), and it was a great experience for me. I saw my first NHL games, and my Dad bought me a Sens jersey and Daniel Alfredsson signed it, so it was really special for me.”

How special would it be for Landeskog to have the Senators’ captain present him another jersey — this time with his name stitched on the back — at this year’s NHL draft, as Alfredsson did for fellow Swede Erik Karlsson two years ago?

“It would be something special, but you never know what’s going to happen here. I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much, but it would be a tremendous honour,” said Landeskog.

Landeskog, the first European player to captain a CHL team, is clearly growing comfortable with the scrutiny since the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau put him as top-ranked skater in this year’s draft class.

There were more than a few Sens fans in the crowd of 7,590 at the Rona Centre to watch Landeskog and his Kitchener Rangers take on the Ottawa 67’s Sunday, along with a full complement of NHL scouts.

“I heard there were going to be a lot of scouts here, but there’s always a lot of scouts at OHL games, you can’t really think about that,” he said.

One of those interested observers was Senators GM Bryan Murray.

“Big shot, real competitive kid,” said Murray. “Certainly a guy, if he’s not ready to play, he’ll soon be ready to play. His skating is strong ... he’s a guy who has a chance to be a top-six forward in the NHL.”


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