What a difference a year makes. A lot can change, but the pursuit of an NHL dream continues to stay the same. After being picked second- round, 31st overall during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, goaltender Oscar Dansk (@OscarDansk) can now put Columbus Blue Jacket on his resume. That in and of itself is just one stride closer to the ultimate dream.
“It feels pretty surreal, I guess it’s a kids dream, but now you really want to play to sign and hopefully someday pretty soon join the organization, whether it’s the AHL or the NHL,” said Dansk. “But obviously, the end goal is to make the NHL team. It’s pretty cool, but you want to prove more now to the team, that you’re good enough to sign.”
For players and fans alike, the process to the actual draft day is a long one filled with a variety of emotions. Before even hitting the draft floor in June, players partake in the combine and a multitude of media interviews, preparing them for what’s to come. Having gone through the process and surviving it successfully, Dansk found himself able to lend advice to teammates.
“I haven’t really talked a lot with guys heading into the draft this year,” said Dansk. “But I talked a little bit with some of the guys on our team who were asking about the combine and stuff. I just told them that it was a fun experience being at the combine, you hear a lot about the pressures of being at the combine, but overall it’s just a fun experience.”
Like many NHL stars that grace the ice today, Dansk spent his post draft season perfecting his skills in the Ontario Hockey League, while protecting the crease for the Erie Otters. The expectations of life in the OHL can vary, but it’s all in what you make of the experience.
“It was a tough schedule and that’s what I wanted,” said Dansk. “But I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I had a kind of picture of what it would be. It was a little different than what I thought, different in a good way and I had fun playing in the OHL and living in Erie.”
At 6-foot-3, 196 lbs the Swedish native leaves little room for his opponents to put the puck between the pipes. Albeit an on and off season of struggle with Erie, thanks in part to a lackluster defensive unit, Dansks’ spirits remained high and his continued pursuit of success on the ice never diminished. With a long off-season ahead, the hard work won’t stop for the 19-year old goaltender. Dansk will head to Columbus in July as part of their development camp.
“I’ll train with a trainer at a facility back home,” said Dansk of his off-season training regime. “Then I’ll be in Minnesota for a part of the summer before development camp to train there as well.”
Despite having off-season training on the brain, players usually take a post season break before getting back to the daily grind. While the process remains different for everyone, for Dansk it’s about spending time with family and friends back home in Sweden, while taking a much needed break from hockey.
“You just kind of stay away from the ice and hockey in general,” said Dansk with a laugh. “You just get away from it all, relax and do whatever you feel is your way of relaxing.”
With a focused mentality on the ice, it’s easy to wonder what Dansk is like off of it. Almost a year since we first had the pleasure of interviewing Dansk, the answer to the personality question remains the same. The goaltender is still an easy going, friendly guy in the eyes of the hockey world. Although Dansk perceives himself in a slightly different manner, both on and off the ice.
“I’d say that I’m serious both on and off the ice. Whatever I do, I’m pretty serious about it- especially on the ice. I can have fun, but fun in a serious way,” said Dansk. “I think on the ice, I try to compete a lot everyday through practice and games. Off the ice, I’d like to think I’m a pretty good guy. Pretty laid back, boring in fact.”
Demeanor aside, no matter where the Blue Jackets prospect lands during the upcoming season, fans and teammates alike will be glad to see his name on their roster sheet.