Twelve forwards, three defenders and a keeper.
With just 16 of its representatives having played at least one NHL game to date, Denmark is not, strictly speaking, a factory for professional players.
In net, only Frederik Andersen, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, defends the colors of Kierkegaard country. But the brotherhood could well double or even triple in the coming years.
In the 2019 draft, two young Danish goalkeepers found a taker. Mads Søgaard was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the 2e lap and, a little later, the Montreal Canadiens made his compatriot Frederik Dichow his choice of 5e tower (138e in total).
In Dichow (pronounced Dick-Howe), the Habs made a daring bet: the young man did not even appear on the list of the 12 best European goalkeepers established by the central recruiting of the NHL.
Cited by the Journal of Montreal at the end of the draft, in June 2019, the Canadian amateur recruiting manager, Trevor Timmins, said: “A great goalie (6’5”), he catches the puck with his right hand. Very calm. »Nothing very concrete to start a Wikipedia page, say.
Earlier this week, Stéphane Waite, coach of the Canadiens goaltenders, was much more talkative, without losing himself in praise. But we feel he is intrigued, even optimistic.
“We see it as a project,” he said straight away when asked about the team’s plans for the Dane.
He quickly pointed out his stature and remarked that there is “a lot to work on” in his case. “I like his basic skills,” he said, however.
“I often say to scouts: bring me a young person who wants to work, who has a good body language, who is hungry and who has a good [gabarit] ; we will teach him the rest, ”continued Waite, adding that with recruiters Sean Burke and Vincent Riendeau as well as with Marco Marciano, goalie coach for the Laval Rocket,“ we have a great team for the goalies ”.
“It’s a great project for everyone,” he repeated.
Close to the pros
In interview with The Press, Dichow is otherwise more perky.
“I feel like I’m getting better every day,” he said from his homeland.
Pending the resumption of play in North America, where he is due to make his debut with the Sudbury Wolves, in the Ontario Junior League, in early 2021, he was loaned to Seier Capital from Rungsted, who plays in the Metalligaen, the main Danish hockey championship. The caliber is far from being the highest in Europe, but Dichow takes the opportunity to look good. Evidenced by his three goals allowed in as many games and his save efficiency rate of .957.
I am learning to become a professional. I’m closer than ever to being a real pro, it’s a great feeling.
In fact, the 19-year-old goaltender got a taste of the big leagues last season. He spent a dozen games in the entourage of the main club Malmö Redhawks, in the Swedish elite league, but a concussion ended his season shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the last ones. games and playoffs. He had previously spent the entire campaign with the Malmö junior team.
He is now anxiously awaiting his Sudbury debut, where he is aiming for the starter position. He said he was curious to live his first experience on a North American rink, smaller than the international standard.
Since the start of the pandemic, and still today in Rungsted, he has been in “almost daily” communication with the organization of the Canadian. Rob Ramage, director of player development, and Patrick Delisle-Houde, physical preparation coordinator, are his main contacts.
“They want to know where my progress and my development are”, he summarizes.
During the summer, he followed the training program prepared by Delisle-Houde to the letter, and today he says he feels “stronger and faster than ever”.
“I’m just waiting for my chance to play hockey full time! ”
Well aware that he still has a long way to go if he wants to reach the NHL, Frederik Dichow argues that the Danish development system is improving, and with it the quality of the players and goalies that emerge from it. “I’m optimistic,” he says of his own fate and that of his young compatriots who, like him, aim for the NHL.
Dichow describes himself as a keeper with “good technique” but who can also make “the saves you see on television”. “I try to keep things simple,” he adds, agreeing in this sense with the assessment made by Stéphane Waite.
In any case, the Canadian has plenty of time to follow his progress, because despite his transfer to Ontario, he retains his status as a European player: the Habs can therefore keep their rights over him until the end of his junior internship. before offering him a contract, the team confirmed to us.
In reality, its main asset is its size. At 6’5 in. And just over 200 lbs, he fulfills a criterion dear to Waite’s heart.
If you’re not fat, you have to have something really special to compensate. You need to be more aggressive or more patient than normal.
Stéphane Waite, trainer
“But again, if you’re more aggressive, it means your lateral movements will be longer and that you are less in control. Or if you want to play deeper, the throws are now so amazing the puck won’t hit you. ”
To say the least, Dichow has what it takes to get the puck to hit him. Although the same was said of Jason Missiaen, 6’8 ”, when the Canadian drafted him in 2008. And history has forgotten him a bit (a lot).
To our knowledge, however, no one had said of him that he was a “great project”.
Dichow Advantage. The rest in a few years.