Wennberg, Dansk, Zaar to attend Sweden's WJC camp
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Blue Jackets could have three prospects representing Sweden at the 2014 World Junior tournament.
Not only would it be a strong showcase for three of the organization's bright young European-born players - Alex Wennberg, Oscar Dansk and Daniel Zaar are under consideration - but it would be a memorable experience for the players, as the annual tournament is being staged in Malmo, Sweden in December.
This is a big opportunity for all three players, who were selected in the last two drafts by the Blue Jackets. Dansk (second round) and Zaar (sixth round) were picked during the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, while Wennberg was GM Jarmo Kekalainen's first of three first-round picks at this year's draft in New Jersey.
All three players have been invited to and will participate in Sweden's pre-World Junior evaluation camp, which opens this week in Lake Placid, N.Y. They will not be the only Blue Jackets prospects in attendance for the week-long camp that also features Canada, the United States and Finland. Each country will hold its own practice schedule for the week, but there is also a four-team mini-tournament on the schedule.
Wennberg, a budding star in Sweden who played well for Djurgarden in Sweden's Allsvenskan league (14-18-32 in 46 GP as an 18-year-old), is taking the next step in the fall and will play for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Of the three Blue Jackets prospects headed to Sweden's World Junior camp, Wennberg is seen as a virtual lock to make the team.
Zaar spent time between three Swedish clubs in 2012-13, but it's looking like he will play for Rogle (Allsvenskan) this season. He scored two goals and posted three points in five games of last year's World Junior in Ufa, Russia.
Also in Zaar's favor: he went back to Sweden after his first development camp in Columbus a year ago and heeded the advice of Blue Jackets management. He got stronger, worked on his physical assets and came back in 2013 with a bit of an edge to his game. That elite-level wrist shot has helped him score a lot of goals in Sweden, too.
Dansk is going to World Junior evaluation camp as one of three Swedish goaltenders, along with Marcus Hogberg (Ottawa draft pick) and 2014 draft-eligible Jonas Johansson.
Though he didn't have the best season in his OHL debut with a young, inexperienced and at-times very poor Erie team, Dansk is firmly in the mix to be Sweden's No. 1 goaltender at the 2014 tournament. His year-to-year improvements during Blue Jackets development camp were noticebale, and goaltending coach Ian Clark spoke highly of Dansk's game and the subtle changes he's made.