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June 20, 2012
Kitchener Rangers alumnus Gabriel Landeskog was awarded the 2012 Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year at a ceremony in Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday evening.
The second-overall pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft one year ago, Landeskog appeared in all 82 regular season games as a rookie, led his team in goals, shots and plus/minus, and traveled to the All-Star Game in Ottawa as a participant in the skills competition.
In two years playing junior with the Rangers, the Stockholm-native recorded 60 goals and 52 assists in 114 regular season games, and averaged over a point-per-game in the 2010 Playoffs, helping the team to the Western Conference Finals. A fan favourite in Kitchener, Landeskog was named the first European captain in Rangers’ history at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
The Swedish forward continued to excel after his jump to the NHL, recording 52 points, including a team-high 22 goals, and finished tied for first in the rookie scoring race with fellow Calder nominee, Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. On October 12, 2011 Landeskog became the youngest Swedish player to history to score an NHL goal, finding the back of the net at 18 years and 324 days old. After growing up fantasizing about a life as a hockey player, it did not take long for him to make his name in the big leagues.
“It’s a dream come true every time you step out on the ice, every time you pull the Avalanche jersey over your head,” said Landeskog of his first pro season in Denver.
Landeskog is the second Kitchener graduate in as many years to earn the nod as the league’s top freshman. Close friend and former teammate Jeff Skinner was the 2011 winner, the latest in a list that includes hockey legends like Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Landeskog’s childhood hero Peter Forsberg.
“It’s an achievement just to be in the mix and to get that recognition and attention,” said Landeskog in advance of Wednesday’s ceremony. “There have been so many great players that have received this award and who have been nominated for the award, so it is a huge honour.”
The Kitchener Rangers congratulate Gabriel on winning the 2012 Calder Trophy after a great season with the Avalanche.
"As a coaching staff that watched Gabriel compete hard at the junior level, we are proud of and happy for him," said Rangers' Associate Coach and Assistant General Manager Paul Fixter. "We will enjoy watching him play for many years in the National Hockey League."
In addition to the Calder Trophy, Landeskog also earned a spot on the 2011-12 NHL All-Rookie Squad.
Rangers Vision Online caught up with Gabriel Landeskog at the end of his first season in the NHL. Hear about his year and his memories of Kitchener HERE.
(Image courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)