If I was a GM looking for a goalie heading into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, there is no doubt the name Oscar Dansk will be called from the podium.
The just turned 18-year-old is simply too good to pass up on. At 6-foot-3, 189-pounds, Dansk combines size with tremendous athleticism, he is positionally and technically sound, has the ability to make highlight reel saves with his quick legs and glove, reads the play well, has excellent rebound control, is very calm and composed, and never gives up on a puck.The butterfly style tender just seems to do everything at such a high caliber, and the scary thing is, he hasn’t even stopped developing his game.
So far this season, Dansk has been unbelievable in international competition, going 3-0 at the U18 5-Nations Cup and posting a 1.66 goals against average and .967 save percentage, en route to leading Sweden to gold. He was also outstanding at the 2011 World Junior A Tournament, with a 1-0-1 record, a miniscule 0.98 goals against, a .971 save percentage, and posted a 1-0 shutout against Team USA.
The ultra-talented netminder has been lights out for his club teams in Brynäs as well, posting a 1.98 GAA in 2 games in the J18 Elit, and a 2.82 GAA in 14 games with the U20 squad in the SuperElit. Dansk has so much talent and ability that he looks destined to be an exceptional pro.
I had the chance to catch up with the great young goaltender, who is also extremely well-versed, for a quick Q and A.
You spent a couple years developing in the Shattuck St. Mary’s system, which is a rare route to go for a Swedish player, how did that situation come about and how did it help you better prepare for Jr. hockey?
Oscar: It all started with me going to Western Canada with my family during the summers to train and go to a few goalie camps. Then we started making friends and connections, and my older brother actually went to Vancouver Island to stay with a billet family, go to school, and play hockey for a year. Where I actually joined him for the last 3 months of his stay. Then we started looking for schools for my older brother to go to, but we never found a fit, and at that time I really wanted to go, so we found Shattuck and I got in. I was supposed to be there for just a year to start, but I liked it so much that I stayed for 3 years. My time there really helped me develop as both a person and a hockey player, and also gave me some routine for playing hockey overseas at a young age. I think I just developed in every aspect of life over there, and I think that has helped me.
*Dansk had unbelievable stats in his three years at Shattuck St. Mary’s, in 2007-08 he posted a 1.98 GAA and 9.10 SV% in 33 games with the Bantam team only to follow that up by posting a 1.43 GAA and .934 SV% in 32 games the following year. In his final stint (2009-10), he had a 1.89 GAA and .914 SV% in 18 games with the Midget squad.
Who has been your biggest influence and help in developing your game thus far?
Oscar: I think first and foremost my family has been the biggest influence to me, since they’ve always supported me and helped me out with everything. I give a lot of credit to them. I have always worked with many different goalie coaches to take in as much knowledge as possible, so I haven’t had a specific goalie coach for a longer period of time. They have all helped me a lot of and I’m thankful for that. I also had some really good coaches during my time at Shattuck too, and I believe that a really good coach can bring a lot to a goaie as well.
You are a good sized tender, that is very positionally sound and very athletic, what do you see being your best attributes as a netminder?
Oscar: I think that I have a little bit of everything, and that’s what I always work on, to not just be good at one thing, but become great at every part of being a goalie. I enjoy playing in high pressure games as well, I think it brings the best out of me.
Is there a goalie in the NHL you style your game after?
Oscar: I don’t have a specific goalie that I style my game after. When I look at highlights and stuff, I look at every goalie playing.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Oscar: I think my time at Shattuck is a highlight for sure. Also the different tournaments we’ve been at with the National Team have been a lot of fun too.
With this being your draft year, have you felt any added pressure to perform?
Oscar: I haven’t really seen it as pressure, but more another goal to achieve, and I always have it in the back of my mind, just like wanting to win a championship.
I know being selected is a huge honor, but if you could pick the team that chooses come Draft day, who would it be?
Oscar: To get picked by any team in the NHL would obviously be really cool, but since I lived in Minnesota, I’d have to pick the Wild.
A lot of goalies are seen as being superstitious, do you have any rituals you go through before or during the course of a game?
Oscar: I have a few rituals but not too many, its all to get into focus. I guess like for anyone else each ritual has personal explanation to it, so It would probably be weird to anyone but me (ha/ha).
Do you have a game that stands out as your best one?
Oscar: Theres been a few games where everything just clicks. The one I remember recently is the game we played against Team USA in the World Jr.A Challenge.
*Dansk made 44 saves en route to a 1-0 blanking of the US
What is the worst goal you’ve ever surrendered?
Oscar: It was last year, and we were on the PP, the d-man on the other team cleared the puck towards me and I was just going to stop like normal. Since it was a bouncing puck, it bounced over my stick, and went five-hole into the net.
Where was your favorite visiting arena to play in and why?
Oscar: I can’t think of another arena other than the Old Rink at Shattuck. It was my home arena while being there, but it has a certain atmosphere to it that you can’t explain unless you’ve been in it.
Who has the hardest shot you’ve ever faced?
Oscar: I can’t remember a specific player, but there are a few players on our pro team here at Brynäs that can really shot the puck.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime from the game?
Oscar: I just like relaxing as much as possible, and whether that’s hanging out with friends or doing whatever doesn’t matter.
Any hidden talents?
Oscar: I took Chinese in school for 3 years, but I would not call it a talent because I did very poorly in those classes.