Who is Marko Dano?
Marko Dano is a forward from Slovakia who played his most recent season with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League. While his numbers (3G, 4A in 37 games) won't jump out at you, the fact that he is an 18 year old playing for a playoff team in the KHL should. The years prior, he played with HC Dukla Trecin in the Slovakian league, first with the junior teams and then advancing to the men's league at age 16. He has also represented Slovakia often in international competition, having some impressive performances along the way. He led Slovakia's U18 team to gold/promotion in the lower division in 2012 with an impressive 13 points (10G, 3A) in 5 games and then put up 9 points in 6 games at the U20 WJC in 2013 He even played for Slovakia's men's team at the World Championships back in May where he notched a goal and an assist in 5 games.
Dano was actually born in Austria, but has played for Slovakia internationally and has also played all of his professional hockey in Slovakia. His father was actually a professional hockey player in Europe as well and Marko now has a very good chance at eclipsing his dad and make the jump across the pond to the NHL. Among the various draft rankings, Dano seems to project to go somewhere in the mid-second round or lower. The NHL's Central Scouting has Dano ranked as their 12th best European Skater, Corey Pronman of Hockey prospectus ranks him number 43 on his board, and Craig Button of TSN has him down at number 72 in his rankings.
Dano is known among scouts for being a strong skater and a guy who isn't afraid to mix it up on the ice. He is slightly undersized at 5'-11" and 183 pounds, but he seems to throw his weight around decently, regardless. His performances in international competition have caught a lot of people's attention (not always for the right reasons), and while Slovakia isn't extremely talent-rich, he has been a standout for those teams. He can put up some decent scoring numbers, but is also considered a very good two-way player. One concern is that he can get a little bit too into the "agitator" role and seems to spend a lot of time in the penalty box. He has a solid defensive game, though, and can play minutes on both the PK and the power play giving him potential value in all situations.
Marko Dano Player Statistics
What Experts are saying about Dano
Ben Kerr at Last Word on Sports put Dano at number 53 on their draft list and compared his style of play to longtime NHLer and former Devil Pat Verbeek:
Dano is a very good skater. His top in speed is good, and his acceleration is excellent. His stride is powerful, and his edgework crisp. ...
Dano’s game is a great combination of skill and grit. As mentioned he loves to hit and involve himself physically in the play. He plays a much bigger game than his size would indicate, battling in the corners and in front of the net. ...
Dano’s style is reminiscent of Pat Verbeek, the little ball of hate. He’s a great combination of grit and skill. Now this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on potential. With Dano’s skating, grit, never quit motor and good defensive play, he’s a pretty safe pick in the draft, and is highly likely to make the NHL in a checking line role at minimum.
Definitely a good amount to like there. If Dano can develop into a skilled NHL player, it seems like he'll be one of those guys who you love when he's on your own team and hate his guts when he's on someone else's.
Corey Pronman likes a lot of Marko's tools, but seems a bit weary of his size in his Hockey Prospectus rankings:
He is a very aware player, capable of top-end distributions. He tends to make quick decisions, and is an agile player, with powerful, all-around bursts. One scout described him as a slippery skater because of his agility and creativity with the puck. He has an above-average top gear. He will show some physical effort, but he is a smaller player at 5'11", and he projects as fringe in the physical areas at the NHL level. He will need to build up his strength.
More to like with the nod to some good playmaking skills. It's interesting that Pronman points out his strength as an area of needed improvement when he seems to get involved in a lot of scrums. Makes sense that he'd need more size to back up that style at higher levels, though.
Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News did a writeup on Dano after last year's WJC's and included this bit on his feisty nature:
Dano believes his feel for the game and his passing are his best assets and was more than happy to take on any role with the Slovakian world junior team. His aggressive play sometimes landed him in the penalty box unnecessarily, but the fact he stared down any opponent who got too close to his netminder was a reminder that the youngest are often also the bravest in battle.
You have to appreciate a guy who will stick up for his teammates, though you'd like to see him cut down on the penalties somewhat. He sounds kind of like David Clarkson, if Clarkson had the ability to skate or pass.
Here's a highlight video of Dano from the 2013 WJC, featuring some nice passes, good stickhandling, solid defense, and a couple questionable hits.
Other videos that aren't interviews of him in Slovakian or videos that people shot of their TV are hard to find, so that will have to be it for now. There's also an, err... interesting one of him working out at what I assume is his parents' home (it also includes some tunes with NSFW language and some fresh dance moves near a parked car... I don't know).
An Opinion of Sorts
Overall, Dano looks to be a solid prospect. He can skate well, seems to have good instincts on the ice, and plays a well-rounded two-way game. The passing ability he showed at the WJC is certainly promising. He is already good enough to play for a playoff team in what is likely the second-best league in the world, and while his numbers aren't huge of yet, it's still impressive that he's chipping in as an 18-year-old. His performances in international play against players his own age show that he is certainly very talented. His tendency to find the penalty box as frequently as he does is not something I'm necessarily a huge fan of, but if he's an effective agitator, he may end up goading people into as taking as many penalties as he does.
If Dano is on the board when the Devils choose in the second round, I'm somewhat torn on whether I'd like to see the Devils take him. If they do, I won't necessarily hate the pick - he's a guy with good ability at both ends of the ice, after all - but I feel like there should be some players left on the board with a bit more size and/or skill than Dano. If the Devils had a third round pick, I think Dano would be a very good get there, but in the high second round of a deep draft, I think I might prefer the Devils look elsewhere. That said, Dano seems to have a decently high floor, and he is still a good bet to have NHL impact in the future.
What do you think? How would you feel about Marko Dano as the Devils' second-round pick? Do you like the skills his game brings? Do you think his presence as an agitator who mixes it up will help or hurt his draft stock? Discuss in the comments below, and thanks for reading.