In fact, few rookies are ever as good as he was this past season.
He not only finished his first year as the team's leading goal-scorer (and third in overall points), no player on the team, rookie or seasoned veteran, faced tougher competition on a nightly basis, and no player did more to keep the play moving up the ice in the right direction (his plus-15 relative Corsi rating, a measure of possession, was by far the best on the team).
At just 19 years of age he's already proven to be one of the best young two-way players in the NHL and is one of the main building blocks (if not the franchise player) for the Avalanche.
Along with New Jersey's Adam Henrique and Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he's also a finalist for the Calder Trophy which will be awarded to the NHL's Rookie of the Year on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
I had an opportunity to speak with Landeskog late in the season about his rookie campaign, being called on to play such a tough role in the NHL as a teenager, and his adjustments to playing against the best players in the world every night.
Gretz: You moved over to North America at a pretty young age and spent a couple of years in the Ontario Hockey League playing for the Kitchener Rangers. What was behind your decision to come over at that point, and what was that adjustment like? It seems like hockey players can have a pretty difficult path to the NHL given how many of them have to leave their homes at a young age -- 15, 16 years old -- to go play Junior Hockey, and for a player like yourself, you had to go to an entirely different country, culture, etc.
Landeskog: I think on my decision to move over I just wanted to develop a number of parts of my game. I was more of a role player at that age, and I wanted to develop my game with the puck, and the only way to develop that is to play a lot. And you get to play a lot in junior hockey. You play 68 games, you get a lot of ice time, playing in all situations, and I wanted to be out there when the game is on the line.
Those were a couple of the factors, and I also wanted to challenge myself off the ice. Move to a new country, a new language, and just a new culture. It was a great experience for me, I think.
I loved it.
It was obviously tough at first, and you had to stay patient with everything and not rush anything. I knew it was going to take a couple of months to get into the lifestyle, to get used to the hockey and everything like that. I just stayed patient and I had a lot of people around me that supported me.
Gretz: You seem to have adjusted well to the new language, did you speak English before you came over?
Landeskog: Yeah, we learn the basics, it's a second a language and we study in school like Canadian people study french. I knew at an early age I wanted to play pro hockey, so I just kind of realized it would be easier if I knew the language. I just studied hard and paid attention.
Gretz: You mentioned getting adjusted to the hockey, what are some of the biggest differences when it comes to playing on the smaller ice surface. There's a perception that the bigger ice in Europe leads to more offense, but I'm not sure how true that really is. The European leagues always seem to have fewer goals than the NHL.
Landeskog: I think it's a more intense game, it's a little bit of a faster pace. More physical.
You don't have as much room out there. You have to make quick decisions. You have to know what to do with the puck and already be prepared when you get the puck. I love playing on the smaller rinks. It took a little bit of time to adjust to that coming over, it's a different game, but it's very good to learn that at an early age and that's why playing Junior was good.
I don't have to deal with that adjustment now.
Gretz: The Avalanche didn't treat you like a rookie this season. You've played a lot of big minutes, played in a lot tough situations and against top players almost every single night. That has to be a big boost for the confidence when you know the coaching staff trusts you that much in those situations, especially when it was meaningful games in a playoff race toward the end.
Landeskog: That's when you want to be on the ice.
You want to be out there when the game is on the line and you want to be out there to make a difference and be a factor in the game. That's everything anyone can ever ask for, and just to get that opportunity, and when you get that opportunity you want to be able to make the most of it, and just cherish that, and obviously it's huge for the confidence.
Confidence is always key for any athlete, I think, and when you get that confidence, when you know the management and the coaches believe in you, you want to go out there and show them what you can do.
Gretz: I'm sure you've been asked about this before, or seen this at some point, but there are a lot of Peter Forsberg comparisons out there when it comes to your style of play. I don't know if that's just because you're both from Sweden and the obvious connection with the Colorado Avalanche, but you definitely seem to play that type of physical, two-way game.
Any players you tried to model your game after?
Landeskog: You always try to take different parts from different players, and obviously Forsberg is a huge influence for me growing up, just like any Swedish kid I think loves watching him.
Just the way he could dominate the game physically, and also the skill is something I admire. But there is a lot of players out there. I like watching Jarome Iginla play, Mike Richards from Los Angeles. I like watching those guys play. They're power forwards and play in all situations on the ice and it's something I admire.
Gretz: Best thing about living in Denver?
Landeskog: The sunshine! It's awesome. The weather is awesome, 300 days a year it's sunny. It really helps you wake up in the morning and come out with a smile on your face.
It's really been awesome, and I'm having a lot of fun here.