Oscar Dansk is a name you may or may not be familiar with. Playing the last two seasons with Brynas Junior team in Sweden, Dansk is a name that’s slated to be called out in the first round of this year’s NHL entry draft being held in Pittsburgh, at the end of June. An unforgettable experience for many a player, the draft is an important day in any hockey career.
“I’m really excited, I want to go there and go as high as possible,” commented Dansk. “I don’t know what to expect, but ultimately I want to go there and enjoy it.”
The 18 year old Swedish goaltender stands at 6’2” between the pipes, posting a J18 Elit (west) best goals against average for the 2010-11 season, Dansk also earned a silver medal with Team Sweden in the 2011 U-18 Junior World Cup. Instead of looking to past accomplishments for his most memorable, Dansk looks to the future.
“Hopefully it will be winning the world championships,” he said.
Currently competing in the IIHF u-18 World Championships being held in Czech, Dansk and his teammates have already had positive showings in games against United States (pre-tourney), Germany and most recently a win against Russia; securing Sweden a spot in the semifinals and Dansk one stride further to potentially winning worlds.
Dansk seems to be in the mindset of always being better and working hard to achieve his accomplishments. Playing the past two seasons with Brynas Junior in Sweden, allowed an opportunity, albeit short, to act as a backup goalie with the big club Brynas. Just one opportunity among many that helped in developing his play.
“Backing up at 16 was pretty cool,” said Dansk. “It was all about learning to be better at my game from them.”
Playing in his home country of Sweden has the benefit of familiarity.
“It’s nice to be home again, playing close to my family.” That being said, Dansk continued,
“But I really enjoyed playing in North America. I like that style of hockey, my goal is still to get over there and play when I get the chance. I feel like it suits me better as a person and a goalie.”
Dansk spent three years as a product of the notable Shattuck St. Mary’s system; a system which has produced the likes of Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. The time spent at Shattuck, wasn’t only about on ice development, but the often overlooked personal off ice growth that creates a certain kind player; Dansk credits his time at Shattuck for both.
“It helped me develop as a person, and allowed me to learn maturity, which helped me in my game,” said Dansk. “In a hockey sense, it taught me to play overseas (North America), and play the puck more.”
Scouting reports aside, watching highlight reels of Dansk between the pipes is a must for any fan of the game. It’s clear to see that his extreme athleticism allows for quickness and the ever important consistency factor that a goaltender needs. For a goalie, consistency isn’t the only “it” factor that leads to success. It’s important to be able to handle the puck, and positioning can’t be overlooked either. Many goalies look to the successful playing styles of their peers.
“I look at every goalie, everyone has their own good qualities,” continued Dansk. “I try to have my own kind of style and not model it after anyone. I just want to try to be good at everything.”
The ability to “be good at everything” isn’t learned overnight. It has been years of hard work, learning and determination, approximately sixteen years in fact. Dansk started his hockey quest at the mere age of two, when his parents strapped him into a pair of skates. Claiming to be a good forward when he was younger it wasn’t until his older brother began pursuing the goaltending position that Dansk thought about the same thing.
“My older brother started going to goalie schools,” said Dansk. “I wanted to be like him.”
Wanting to be like his brother wasn’t the only family memory that Dansk shared;
“I remember when I first started going to skating school, we played a game in one of the practices and I was really thirsty at the time I guess,” commented Dansk with a laugh. “With my parents being in the stands, I waved at them to get me water. My dad is who he is, so he just ignored me completely, because I was in the middle of practice. I got really mad and took the puck and scored.”
With an open personality that already makes Dansk a likeable player amongst the fans, it’s inevitable that his fan base will increase come June. Come draft time, there is a possibility of 30 NHL teams potentially looking to add Dansk to its roster. Any team would be a dream and a welcomed opportunity for the goalie.
“I’d love to play for any team,” said Dansk. “Since I’ve played and lived in Minnesota, I’d like to play there for the Wild. New York wouldn’t be too bad either.”
While the majority of players won’t see the NHL their draft year, it’s not an impossibility. Keeping up development is a key component for the NHL future of any player, Dansk is no different.
“You never know with your development how you’re going to be next year,” said Dansk. “So, we’ll see what happens.”
While his on ice talent has earned him a place in the draft, it’s his off ice demeanor that will lend a stick in making him a worthwhile personality in the NHL someday.