Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One To Watch: Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus fans are probably tired of hearing about prospects, the future and what will be "one day". But it is true that the Blue Jackets have good things on the way and really, better days should lay ahead in the not too distant future.  

Already respectable on the blueline at the NHL level, there are more d-men in the system like David Savard, Nick Holden, Teddy Ruth, Cody Goloubef, Austin Madaisky and Mike Reilly with promise. Add 2nd overall pick Ryan Murray to that mix and recently acquired Tim Erixon and Columbus may even be considered "deep" at the position. 

I still think getting Boone Jenner in the second round of 2011 is great fortune for Columbus and will be a quality player one day. Michal Chaput had an excellent Memorial Cup tournament and T.J. Tynan, although very undersized, is an odds beater. 

But the position that is most highly scrutinized in the organization is between the pipes. I personally like Allen York and really approve of the selection of Joonas Korpisalo as well although I'm disappointed to here he has signed to play in Finland instead of playing in the WHL with Prince George. 

That said, it's another netminder that I have circled on my "must follow" sheet for this coming year. 

Oscar Dansk (G)
Photo: Derek Leung

Erie Otters
6'2, 187 lbs
Drafted 31st overall in 2012

I'll be honest, I don't know near enough about Oscar Dansk yet and I guess that's really part of the reason that I am looking forward to seeing what he can do this year. 

A look back at his stats is impressive, especially when it comes to his international play. It was only two games but his WJAC appearances last fall were remarkable and really cemented him on the radar for scouts.  He was again very good at the World U18s for Sweden in the spring. 

The scouting reports I have read all gush about his athleticism and raw potential too. In particular, our bi-weekly guest on TPS Ross MacLean from ISS was driving the Dansk bandwagon earlier than anyone else that I can recall.

I know that there are those within Hockey Canada that don't like to see so many European goalies playing in the CHL but I personally don't mind it. The fact that Dansk is considering coming to the OHL to play for small market Erie tells me something about his character and desire to play more and to improve. 

It shouldn't be a surprise considering he'd already come to North America a few years ago and played at Shattuck-St.Mary's for three seasons. That experience on this side of the pond should lead to a much smoother transition to the OHL than for most Europeans who have to deal with culture shock as well as a different style of hockey.

Photo: Jana Chytilova
Dansk is currently in Lake Placid with Sweden's U20 WJC team. He is the favourite to be the starter in Ufa at the 2013 tournament and he'd get plenty of starts in Erie leading up to that event. 

I think it will be great drama watching Dansk develop over the course of this season no matter where he ends up playing. Clearly the Blue Jackets are near desperation to find a solution to their goaltending woes and although the Swede won't help this year, he is a big piece to that long-term puzzle. How does he react to that pressure?

If he plays in the OHL will he help get the Otters back out of the cellar and into the playoffs?

Does he backstop Sweden to another gold medal at the WJC in Russia?  

My curiosity is up and it's for the reasons above that I've chosen Oscar Dansk as "One to Watch" in 2012-13 for Columbus.


C J N said...

Also interesting to see that Grigorenko was Ross MacLean's #1 during the recording of that November audio piece.

Guy Flaming said...

You are correct, I think ISS had him #1 for 2 or 3 months right around there.