The Winnipeg Jets have traded their captain Andrew Ladd along with minor leaguers Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison to the Chicago Blackhawks. In exchange they received Marko Dano, a first round pick in 2016 along with a conditional draft pick. The return fits the criteria of what Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was reportedly seeking for his captain a first round pick and a prospect.
The first round pick will probably be somewhere in the late twenties of the draft seeing as the Blackhawks will probably go pretty far in the playoffs this year and the addition of Ladd helps their chances even more.
Now what about that prospect they wanted? Marko Dano is 21 years old and was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 27th overall in 2013. Fans may remember Dano from his World Junior days with Slovakia where he put his skill on display for three tournaments. Dano was acquired by the Hawks from Columbus in the Brandon Saad trade and has split time in the NHL and the AHL over the last 3 seasons.
Dano hasn't spent much time with the Blackhawks this season, suiting up on just 13 occasions. He's been spending the vast majority of the season with the team's AHL affiliate, the Rockford Ice dogs. Dano has put up decent numbers this season for the Icedogs while recording 23 points in 34 games. But in a 35 game sample size last season with the Blue Jackets, Dano was impressive.
Dano recorded 21 points in 35 games with the Jackets and displayed that his skill set could some day translate to the NHL. This season hasn't been a great one for Dano points wise but it should be reiterated that Dano is only 21 years old and a coveted prospect.
Patrick Williams of nhl.com had this to say about Dano:
"Very good shot. Sturdy and compact. Goes into traffic. A bit feisty."
The skill has been widely documented with Dano, the numbers may not show a player with big potential, but that's not true. Dano has the skill and speed that could make him turn in to a really solid player in the not so distant future. With the emergence of Artemi Panarin in Chicago, there wasn't much space for Dano to develop and become the kind of player that the Hawks thought he could be when they acquired him. Dano will be given ample time and opportunity to develop with the Jets. He fits in the age gap of the next wave of Jets prospects set to take over the roster in the coming years.
Dano may be undersized but as we can see from Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff's track record, the Jets don't mind having smaller skilled guys in their arsenal. The Jets have drafted undersized forwards Chase De Leo and Nic Petan who has both been impressing thus far with the Manitoba Moose along with undersized Winnipeg Jets rookie Nikolaj Ehlers who is having an impressive rookie campaign.
Dano is also the second coveted prospect that Cheveldayoff has acquired via trade, the first being Joel Armia who they acquired in the Evander Kane trade with the Buffalo Sabres. The Jets have stressed the importance of the development of their own home grown prospects but acquiring outside young talent to develop is also essential.
Dano is expected to be in the lineup against the Penguins on Saturday. Where could he slot in?
The Jets are certainly going to want to give Dano the chance to display his skill and give him some line mates that can help him play his game. Dano has the versatility of playing centre or left wing but most likely will translate to a full time winger in the NHL. With the gapping whole on the left side due to the Andrew Ladd departure, you can expect Marko Dano to skate anywhere from lines 2-4. My guess is he skates alongside Adam Lowry and Joel Armia. The undersized Dano's game could gel nicely alongside the two power forwards that have been noticeable in a good way, as of late.
There is also a chance Dano can't keep up with the Jets and needs to return to the minors for some more fine tuning and that is fine. The Jets don't need Dano to jump in and start to light things up. The rest of the year is an evaluation period for this team and giving Dano a taste of the NHL won't hurt. Dano isn't supposed to be a full time NHLer right now, he's got time to develop, but acquiring a player of Dano's skill set is exciting.
Marko Dano could shape out to be a bigger part of this deal than many think.