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Something In The Way – C.I.’s ’15-’16 Season Preview: Marko Dano

I think we’ll keep circling through the new forwards as Matt started that trend yesterday. It’s more interesting that way, as basically you know what you’re getting from the holdovers. So now we’ll get to the main prize in the Brandon Saad deal, or what the Hawks will hope becomes the main prize, Marko Dano.

Last Season: 35 games, 8 goals, 13 points, 21 points, +12, 14 PIM, 54.0% Corsi Percentage (+7.4% Relative), 48.9% Corsi Competition

Even just those numbers are enough to make you see what the Hawks saw and wanted him part of this trade. Look a little deeper, and they get even more enticing. 19 of those points came in the last 25 games. Now, it’s hard to judge exactly what it means that he piled up points in March and April when the Jackets were well out of it. Sure, the Jackets were playing teams that had something on the line, but were they taking the Jackets seriously? That’s a question nearly impossible to answer. Still, that +7.4% Corsi Relative is a dominant number.

Better yet, it wasn’t like Dano was being shoved into the offensive zone at the beginning of every shift. He started 44% of his shifts in the o-zone. He finished over 52% there, so he could turn the ice. His competition wasn’t the hardest, but it wasn’t the easiest either. And according to Behind The Net, for every 60 minutes he was on the ice the Jackets were nearly two goals better than every 60 minutes he wasn’t.

Just watching him, it’s obvious the skill Dano brings to the table, along with the speed. He’s a first round pick, after all. Dano already has some of the best hands on the team. He doesn’t have a lot of size, and that’s a problem that’s up and down the Hawks lineup.

This Season’s Outlook: Well it would appear Dano is going to get the sweetheart spot to start the season, on the left side of Toews and Hossa. You could hardly ask for a better platform, as they’ll clear space, keep the puck, and make up for whatever defensive deficiencies he might have (and it’s not that he’s defensively helpless). It also will make for a very interesting watch, because in the two-three years Toews and Hossa have played together they haven’t had what you’d call a playmaker on the other side. It’s not that those two or Saad or Sharp are bad passers, they’re all pretty good. But Dano’s game is far more of a playmaking style than those two. The mind rattles and what Hossa and Toews could do with a winger that is specifically set out to get them the puck at the net or in the open spaces. Dano does have those hands and vision. 

It won’t be that simple, of course. It’s one thing to play well in the Metro Division in the dying embers of a season. It’s another to try and produce from jump street in the West. Toews’s line sees the best defensive units opponents have to offer, and they’ll be quick to see if the smaller Dano can escape their rough justice (what?). Dano, unlike Saad or Sharp, probably isn’t going to aid the other two in the cycle game they specialize in (though they might not need the help), and that will take some working out. Also, Dano has only played center and the right side, and his playmaking game would probably be better on his off-side. So he’ll have to work that out, though the early returns from camp suggest he isn’t having any issues doing that.

It would seem that if you want to get as excited about Dano as you did Teuvo, you would be well within your rights to do so. Everything just short of the moon is possible, if not likely. With all the garbage around and in the Hawks these days, this is one aspect that everyone should be jonesing to see.

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