The Winnipeg Jets sent Andrew Ladd and some AHL fodder for potentially two picks and a prospect named Marko Dano.
So who is this Dano and what should Jets’ fans expect and hope for from the young forward?
Let’s take a look.
Swapping the 30-year-old Andrew Ladd for the 21-year-old Austrian native instantly makes the Jets a younger team. The 5’11” forward developed initially in the Slovakian hockey system, where he first started to turn heads scoring 3 points in 6 games for the Slovaks as a 16-year-old, and then 9 points in 6 games the next year as a draft eligible player.
Dano was ultimately drafted 27th overall in the 2013 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. This means the Jets add another to an already very large draft class of 2013 that includes Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Eric Comrie, Jimmy Lodge, JC Lipon (although was 2011 eligible), Andrew Copp (although was 2012 eligibile), Jan Kostalek, Tucker Poolman (although was 2011 eligible), Brenden Kichton (re-drafted), and Marcus Karlstrom (plus Axel Blomqvist who was signed to an ELC out of training camp).
Dano was drafted out of the KHL, where he has a career 12 points over 78 games over two seasons at 18 and 19-years-of-age. He shifted over to North America late in 2014 where he has scored 48 points over 83 regular season games. He also has NHL experience with 21 points over 35 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then 2 points over 13 games for the Chicago Blackhawks after being traded as part of the Brandon Saad deal.
While Dano’s NHL sample is small, he has performed extremely well under limited and sheltered minutes. Dano has paced 2.32 points per sixty minutes of 5v5 ice time. For contextual perspective, only Wheeler has paced over 2 points per sixty this season for the Jets. We would not expect that type of pace to persist, especially given his AHL pace, but it is still promising to see.
The young forward’s deployment has leaned towards offensive opportunities, but still Dano’s teams have controlled 54.33 per cent of shots with Dano on the ice, while only controlling 49.08 per cent with him on the bench.
A good comparison for Dano’s performance this season in the AHL may be the Jets’ own Nic Petan. Dano is slightly older but similar age. This season Petan has paced 0.56 primary points per game, while Dano has paced 0.41 points per game. Dano though tends to shoot the puck more with his 2.2 shots per game versus Petan’s 1.9.
Most of Dano’s AHL contributions this year though has come from the power play, with Petan pacing 0.44 primary even strength points per game, while Dano sits at 0.235.
Dano has experience playing centre, although he most plays on the wing. He is a left-handed shot, although tends to prefer to play on his “off-wing” much like Nikolaj Ehlers.
Overall, Dano fits a style the style for the team Kevin Cheveldayoff seems to be trying to build with additions like Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor. Dano is both fast and quick, as he has a okay top-gear (not nearly Connor or Ehlers speed though) but can accelerate quickly. His strength with his speed is more the pace he can keep up and his ability to make plays at his top-speed. He excels at breaking into the zone with the puck and, despite being under 6-feet-tall, he isn’t afraid to drive into the tough areas.
We discussed earlier that the Jets wishing to compete over the next few years will likely need to additions, upgrading two top-nine wingers and adding to Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault, and Drew Stafford.
Unless something dramatic changes or players struggle to reach their potential, these two needed additions may be adequately filled by Marko Dano and Kyle Connor.