He may not have gained a great amount of exposure at home, but on the world stage, Frederik Andersen has made himself known.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound goaltender, drafted with the Hurricanes’ final pick in the seventh round in 2010, has spent the last two seasons with Fredrikshavn in the top division in his native Denmark. With the Danish league not on the same level as other European countries, it’s hard enough to get noticed there, let alone in the junior division in which he spent his first two years of draft eligibility.
“The Danish under-20 league is not a top league in the world, so I think I might have been more under the radar,” said Andersen, in Raleigh for the first time to participate in the Hurricanes’ conditioning camp.
To put Danish hockey in perspective, just seven players born in that country have ever appeared in an NHL game. Six of those – Mikkel Boedker, Lars Eller, Jannik Hansen, Philip Larsen, Frans Nielsen and Peter Regin – are currently active, showing recent growth that Andersen hopes to continue by becoming the first goaltender to join that list.
For now, however, the Danish league is still relatively anonymous on the larger scale. That being said, it wasn’t his promotion to the men’s division that made the Hurricanes take note in his third and final turn through the NHL draft. Rather, it was his performance for Denmark at the senior level of 2010 World Championship – a tournament featuring the biggest hockey countries in the world and some of the best NHL players whose teams aren’t in the playoffs.
Being a goalie for an underdog team can be a challenge – Danish goaltenders were among the leaders in shots faced at that tournament – but Andersen first made his presence known in his country’s surprising 4-1 upset of Finland, a game in which he made 36 saves as his team was out-shot 37-16.
“He was outstanding,” said Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald following his selection of Andersen. “He’s a big guy at 6-foot-4 and well over 200 pounds and has tremendous athletic ability. He had a very, very strong World tournament playing against NHL-caliber players, and we felt that the upside here was significant.”
Playing in the world tournament could have proved intimidating for a young player in a high-pressure position, but not for Andersen, who along with his size considers mental toughness one of his strongest suits.
“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I don’t think about who I’m playing against because I play my game and prepare the same way no matter what.”
Andersen again backstopped the Danish entry at the more recent 2011 World Championship in Slovakia, giving him two more such events than all but the best and brightest young players that happen to come from bigger hockey countries.
“I feel like I’m very experienced even though I’m only 21,” he said.
Next season, Andersen will face stiffer competition on a regular basis as he moves to Frolunda of the more-highly-regarded Swedish Elite League, where he will work to improve his mobility. It was a move he was hoping to make last season, but his Danish contract prevented it.
However, Andersen doesn’t feel like that was such a bad thing.
“It was good for me to stay another year,” he said. “I felt pretty good at that level and I could continue to improve with lots of playing time and playoff experience.”