Denmark may not be known for the sport of hockey, but the presence of Danish players within the Canucks organization is growing. Jannik Hansen admits that hockey ranks fifth as a national sport in Denmark behind soccer, tennis, hand-ball and gymnastics, but that has not hindered the Canucks from scouting strong Danish talent. Hansen, 26, drafted in 2004, is no longer the lone Danish player to dawn a Canucks jersey, joined now by fellow country man Nicklas Jensen.
Jensen, 19, selected 29th overall in the 2011 NHL entry draft, has shown the potential to become a dominant power forward, having showcased his ability to score on every level he has played. He has extensive experience playing internationally, having represented Denmark in the World Junior Championships (U18 and U20) from 2009-2012. And despite being drafted only last year, Jensen has also picked up a plethora of valuable North American playing experience since last July.
After having an impressive training camp with the Canucks, in which he received accolades from head coach Alain Vigneault, Jensen went on to play the season with his junior team, the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, tallying 58 points (25Gs and 33A) in 57 games played. At the end of the Generals season, Jensen joined the Canucks AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, playing in six regular season games (scoring four goals) and two playoffs games (scoring another two goals). Jensen’s ability to perform at a professional level with the Wolves exemplifies his capacity to elevate his game at any level and come up big in the clutch.
Jensen’s supreme scoring talent is not the only positive thing the young Dane has going for him that will assure a bright future with the Canucks. He has a level head, good attitude going forward, and is making the most of every opportunity he’s given to learn new things and further develop his game. Jensen knows that talent can only get you so far, and that one has to always be willing to perfect their craft. “ [I've been working on] playing a complete game and working on the defensive part [of my game] because it’s one of the main things you really have to work on to make it to the next level [and] be a part of the Canucks” (x) explains the prospect.
Jensen’s humility and willingness to learn has not gone unnoticed by the Canucks organization nor his fellow Dane, Hansen. Hansen acknowledges that the experience Jensen has gained in such a short time will benefit him in the long run, knowing that “there’s a lot of grooming that goes on [in North America by] playing a lot more games than you do back in Denmark” (x). Given Jensen’s exceptional play this season, Hansen (who was named Denmark’s player of the game in their opening game of IIHF World Hockey Championships) was expecting Jensen to join him at the tournament. Unfortunately, Jensen was unable to join team Denmark due to a concussion he received during his second playoff game with the Chicago Wolves.
While Jensen may have not had the opportunity to play beside Hansen at the 2012 World Hockey Championships, his dedication to the game,constant strive to be better and ambition to apply new knowledge will assure his place on the Canucks roster next to his fellow country man for many years to come. Meaning, sooner rather than later, Jannik Hansen may not be the only Great Dane excelling in Canucks blue.