Denmark has experienced tremendous success over the last ten years. From a country in Group C to now a first time team in Group A at WC, to the National level, a country where scouts are beginning to see talent emerging in the young leagues. But success doesn’t just come overnight and in my perspective the reason is very clear.
In the beginning of the 1990’s Denmark started to bring in Russian import players, and one of the first was Valery Bragin who came to the tradition filled club Rödovre. Bragin played for four seasons and could easily score a lot of points, as Bragin was clearly several levels better than the Danish players. In his four seasons Bragin played in approximately 110 games and made 186 pts (80 goals and 106 assists), this opened the eyes of many of the other clubs and soon Denmark had a lot of imports.
The list underneath show the top 5 influential players are players that have played in Denmark. This is just to illustrate the importance of these players, as these have been top players that have helped form hockey in Denmark into what it is today.
All-time players in Denmark (in no particular order): Name (country)GPGAPTSPIM Leonid Truhno (Russia)*434411447858855 Anatolij Chistyakov (Russia)2692012174181078 Oleg Starkov (Russia)234176191367120 Petri Skriko (Finland)240217304521N/A Todd Björkstrand (USA)5456215691190N/A * Truhno still plays at the age of 40 years old.
So these are the major top players in Denmark over the years, and from playing with these extremely skilled players the league and the Danish players improved fast. Many of you might then wonder are these players just several levels higher than the Danish and the answer is not any more! The Danish players have evolved into tough Vikings and true talent are emerging very fast.
An example is the junior teams of Rödovre that are participating in tournaments in Sweden and winning over the top prospects of Sweden. The Junior National teams have also shown that Denmark has the potential to stay in the “A-group” in the WC for years to come.
There have already been three players drafted from Denmark, and if scouts will open the eyes for this hidden talent, more could very easily follow soon. The first player from Denmark to enter the draft was Heinz Ehlers who was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1984, 9th round, 188th overall. Another player is Kim Staal that is now playing in the Swedish Elite series, Staal was drafted by Montreal Canadians in 1996, 4th round, 92nd overall. Latest addition is Malmös super talented player Frans Nielsen, he in the draft last year and was picked by New York Islanders in 3rd round, 87th overall.