Oscar Dansk has been a good soldier for Wranglers, but the writing may be on the wall

Photo credit:Jenn Pierce/Calgary Wranglers
Ryan Pike
8 days ago
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Professional sports is full of thankless jobs, spots on the roster where there’s very little glitz, glamour or glory, but that are supremely important to a team functioning properly.
When we think of thankless jobs, playing backup behind a superstar netminder has to be right up there on the list. They don’t play a lot, they often get starts when the team is absolutely exhausted, and they’re expected to give quality minutes whenever they can.
The backup goaltender for the past two seasons for the Calgary Wranglers has been Oscar Dansk. His numbers have been solid if unspectacular, but he’s contributed quite positively on and off the ice.

The past

A product of Stockholm, Sweden, Dansk has had a very unique journey through the hockey world.
After playing youth hockey in the Väsby organization, he played three seasons at the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota. He then returned to Sweden and played two seasons with Brynäs, playing primarily with their under-20 team. He impressed enough with his performances to be selected in the second round, 31st overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Dansk was selected by the Erie Otters in the 2012 CHL Import Draft and made the trip back over to North America, spending his two post-draft seasons with the Otters. His initial campaign, 2012-13, saw him experience growing pains, with the primary highlight of his season a silver medal from the World Juniors where he won five of six games he appeared in. His 2013-14 season was a big bounce-back, as he led the OHL in shutouts and goals against average.
Dansk’s first pro season, 2014-15, was a mixed bag, as he spent the season bouncing between Columbus’ AHL and ECHL affiliates. That experience led to the Blue Jackets facilitating a loan back to Sweden that led to him playing out his entry-level deal with Rögle BK in the SHL.
Dansk wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer when his ELC expired with Columbus, but the expansion Vegas Golden Knights needed goaltending depth and he was signed to a one-year deal with the organization – it ended up turning into a four-season run with the Golden Knights. He appeared in six NHL games during his tenure with Vegas, but primarily served as an AHL netminder in Chicago and Henderson.
After spending a season in the KHL with Spartak Moskva, Dansk was lured back to North American when he signed a one-year deal with the Flames in the 2022 off-season. He spent 2022-23 entirely with the Wranglers, serving as Dustin Wolf’s backup during the youngster’s MVP season. Wolf won every major award he was eligible for in the AHL, while Dansk played 17 games and was the Wranglers’ nominee for the league’s Man of the Year humanitarian award.

The present

Dansk re-upped on another one-year deal with the Flames for 2023-24, and spent the entire campaign in the AHL with the Wranglers. Originally slotted as the veteran backup, Dansk ended up playing 27 of the Wranglers’ 72 games – 10 more than in the prior season – due to Wolf spending a third of the year in the NHL.
Dansk turned 30 in February, and his game seemed to suffer a little bit during periods of heavy workload – he seemed to get a bit of a boost in the last chunk of the season as the Wranglers coaching staff leaned on third-stringer Connor Murphy a bit more, which allowed Dansk to be a bit fresher when he was called upon. All-in-all, Dansk posted a record of 11-12-3, with a 3.22 goals against average and .897 save percentage. His GAA ranked 44th out of 48 AHL goalies that played 1,440 minutes, while his save percentage was 41st out of 48.
For the second consecutive season, Dansk was chosen as the Wranglers’ nominee for the AHL’s Man of the Year award for his off-ice contributions in the community. For the second consecutive season, he had a custom mask designed as part of a partnership with Ronald McDonald House Alberta, with the mask auctioned off to benefit the charity.

The future

Dansk is a pending unrestricted free agent on July 1. As he enters his 30s, he has a really interesting hockey resume featuring appearances in some of the best leagues in the world, and his numbers suggest that there’s still some value to be had from him in the right place with the right role. With the Flames currently having Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar under active contracts, Dustin Wolf as a pending restricted free agent, and having recently signed European free agent Waltteri Ignatjew, we’re not sure what the future holds for him in the Flames organization.
Heck, even if the Flames move on from either of Markstrom or Vladar, which would likely result in Wolf moving into the NHL full-time, we’re not sure if an AHL tandem of Dansk and Ignatjew would be a fit – in that situation, the Wranglers may benefit from adding a more established AHL starter.
Regardless, if Dansk has played his last minutes in the blue paint for the Wranglers, he’s left a really positive legacy considering his fairly limited role. He gave the club a chance to win more often than not, and he seemed to really take to the off-ice work in the community.

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