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McKenzie: Race for No. 1 in 2011 NHL draft is wide open

Bob McKenzie
1/10/2011 7:29:00 PM
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There has ever only been one player Kitchener Ranger GM-coach Steve Spott has compared to Mike Richards and that player is No. 1 on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's mid-term rankings of North American-based prospects, which was released on Monday.

Meet Gabriel Landeskog, who henceforth can be called the Swedish Mike Richards.

Spott says his Swedish captain in Kitchener will "100 per cent be an NHL captain" and will have the same impact on an NHL team as Mike Richards has had with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Spott says Landeskog's traits are identical to Richards, from delivering a big hit, dropping the gloves when it serves the team's purpose, scoring big goals, making great plays with and without the puck and being the consummate leader who knows what it takes to win.

Defenceman Adam Larsson, who is playing in the Swedish Elite League, is No. 1 on CSB's International Rankings so Swedish prospects, for now, are tops on two continents.

NHL CSB has Landeskog ahead of Drummondville centre Sean Couturier at No. 2, Red Deer centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at No. 3, Saint John Sea Dog centre Jonathan Huberdeau at No. 4 and USA Under-18 winger Tyler Biggs at No. 5.

Huberdeau, who is lighting up the Quebec league with 27 goals and 65 points, is the only surprise name. Landeskog, Couturier, Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson have been elite level considerations from the start of the season but Huberdeau has rocketed up the charts.

Keep in mind, though, it's only a mid-season ranking and NHL CSB is merely a guideline for NHL clubs who have their own preferences, but the race for No. 1 is wide open.

Bob McKenzie

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