The absence of any detectable European accent speaks to his ability to adapt and develop. Avalanche left winger Gabriel Landeskog, the youngest captain in NHL history, is a relentless learner, competitor and teammate, and already is considered one of the most respected players in the league.

"He's a natural-born leader," veteran goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere said of the 20-year-old Swede.

Landeskog, who will debut as the Avs' fourth captain in Saturday's season opener at Minnesota, arrived in North America at age 16 in 2009 to begin a two-year stint playing juniors in Kitchener, Ontario. He didn't like how he was originally treated.

"My accent, and the guys making fun of me — I just didn't want them to make fun of me, so I worked on getting rid of it," Landeskog said.

He gets rid of a lot of things he doesn't like, and embraces what he desires. He became the first European-born captain in the history of the Kitchener Rangers.

"Gabe's a freak of nature," Avs defenseman Erik Johnson said. "He's from Sweden, but sounds North American. He's 20 years old and acts 40 years old. He definitely fits the bill for a captain."

Landeskog, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, wanted to play in the NHL as a teenager, and went on to easily make the Avs as a first-year pro. He won the Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year last season as arguably the Avs' best overall player, leading them in goals (22), plus-minus rating (plus-20), shots (270) and hits (219).

He never carried himself like a rookie, and teammates endorsed him as captain.

Read more: Avalanche's Gabriel Landeskog could be a captain for the ages - The Denver Post

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