COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Though he's a man of few words, Marko Dano was "pleasantly and happily surprised" when the Blue Jackets announced him as the 27th pick overall at the NHL Draft.
Ranked as the twelfth-best European skater going into Sunday's draft, Dano impressed scouts during the NHL Scouting Combine, particularly during the medicine ball test. Because of his KHL experience, Dano believes that the physical play and bigger players are similar to the conditions he will face in the NHL and credits those conditions for his own strength and toughness.
Following his selection, Dano also described himself as a smart player capable of playing a strong two-way game.
"I play well on defense and also the offense, so I can play a hard game," said Dano. "I play against men in the KHL, so I’m tough. I’m not very (tall), but I have good puck handling skill and good passes, so I think I’m a play maker.”
As a right wing for HC Slovan Bratislava, Dano had seven points in 37 games, including four goals. Though he isn't known so much for his scoring touch, his combination of skill and grit make him an excellent addition for the Blue Jackets.
He was also one of the top players for his native Slovakia at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, and put his high-octane style on display. Dano plays in the high-traffic areas around the front of the net and in the high slot, and isn't one to shy away from the physical aspect of the game despite his size.
Dano is especially excited to be in the same organization team as a player he knows well: Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik. The two are from the same hometown of Trencin, Slovakia, and often skate together in the off-season.
"The Blue Jackets have very good players, like Gaborik," said Dano. "I'm happy I can be there, so that's very good for me."