Dano excited for opportunity with Blackhawks
When Brandon Saad was traded to Columbus two weeks ago, the Blue Jackets player most Blackhawks fans wanted to know more about was Artem Anisimov.
He is theoretically the answer for the Hawks as their second-line center and certainly was a big reason general manager Stan Bowman made the deal with Columbus.
But the somewhat under-the-radar player fans should keep an eye on is winger Marko Dano. The 20-year-old, who was a first-round pick by Columbus in 2013, has the skill set and work ethic to be a top-six NHL forward in the not-too-distant future.
Dano is one of 57 players taking part in the Blackhawks' prospect camp at Johnny's IceHouse this week. While surprised that he was traded, he's also "really excited" to join the defending champs.
"It's a great feeling for me to be a part of an organization that's playing for a Stanley Cup every year," Dano said Sunday after taking part in his first workout. "Every player wants to win the Cup, and with this team there's a bigger chance for me to raise the Stanley Cup above my head."
Dano was with the Blue Jackets for 35 games last season, including the last 27. He played a big part in the team going 14-1-1 in its last 16 games, racking up 4 goals and 10 assists in that stretch.
His most impressive performance might have been on March 19 in Vancouver when Columbus scored 6 straight goals in a 6-2 victory. Dano notched 2 goals and an assist in that game.
"We've seen great strides in his game," coach Todd Richards told reporters afterward. "Just great strides. The power. The physical play. Maybe that's what opens your eyes with him.
"But then there's some skill there, too. A lot of skill. And what I like is the way he's getting into games and really focusing and digging into them. It means a lot to him."
Former Columbus teammate Scott Harnell loved Dano's work ethic.
"He's making the most of the opportunity, and you can just see his confidence swelling," Hartnell said after that Vancouver game. "He looks like a pretty special young man to me. I'm excited to see where this goes."
Now, though, it's Hawks fans who can get excited about the Slovakian winger. We're two-plus months away from training camp, but a logical spot for Dano would be to start him on the third line with Teuvo Teravainen at center and a yet-to-be-determined player at the other wing.
Dano and Kyle Baun are the only players at prospects camp who have played an NHL game, but Dano's presence isn't that unexpected because of his age and the fact that he's joining a new team.
"Pretty much continuing my summer workout here," he said.
Dano considers himself a good two-way player who needs to work on his first couple of steps to "become more explosive."
His transition to the Hawks figures to be made a bit easier because of two factors:
• He will be reunited with Anisimov … and possibly Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp. "I'm a young guy," Dano said, "so I'm glad there's a couple guys who I know, a couple guys who got traded with me. So I'm not starting from zero here."
• The fact that fellow Slovak Marian Hossa is now a teammate. Dano said he watched the Hawks during the Stanley Cup Final, rooting for them because of Hossa, who played with Dano's dad many years ago.
"I know he's a nice guy and he was playing with my father back home when he was 18," Dano said. "He started with my dad, so it's cool that I can play with him now."
If all goes according to plan and Dano manages to impress coach Joel Quenneville -- never an easy feat for young players -- watch for him to have a big impact on the Hawks next season.
"I'm glad I can be here, and I'm really excited to be part of the organization," he said.
• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh