2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 21 Nicklas Jensen

Denmark never has been, and never claims to be a hockey hotbed, nor a top producer of hockey talent. But in the past few years, the NHL has seen a drastic increase in the number of top hockey prospects being drafted out of the Danish country, including Phoenix Coyote Mikkel Boedker, Montreal Canadien Lars Eller, Ottawa Senator Peter Regin, and Dallas Star Philip Larsen.

This June, at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Oshawa Generals right wing Nicklas Jensen will be added to that list – and might just become the most successful of his country. After falling just short of a point per game average in Denmark for the Herning Blue Fox, Jensen joined the Ontario League and posted 29 goals and 58 points in 61 games of his rookie season. The 6-foot-3, 186-pound forward got many of his skills from his father, Dan, who spent 16 seasons playing Danish professional hockey (after playing for a few years in the OHL as well).

“I’ve been watching him all my life,” Nicklas said of his father in an NHL.com interview. “Every home game I’ve been out there watching him. He’s a huge thing for me in hockey and I watched him a lot of times. He’s definitely one of the biggest reasons I’m here.”

Jensen began having success right from the get go, but his season reached its climax in January, when he was named the OHL’s player of the week, after scoring three goals and seven points in three games. But he knows that it took him a little bit to get adjusted to the difference in styles from the Danish League to the OHL. “Here, everyone is more skilled and the hockey goes a little faster,” he said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. “The ice surface is so much smaller than what we have at home, so that makes the game even faster, also you’re going from playing against men to against your own age, which is pretty cool.”

Jensen is looked at as a very talented two-way forward, but has an incredible ability to shoot the puck and skate through a crowd. Scouts would like to play a more physical game, but in order to do that, he would have to bulk up (which would help him, regardless). Although he was not very consistent at the start of the season, scouts liked the way he progressed throughout the year.

“There are always growing pains for a player with only one season under his belt in the North American game,” says True Hockey on Jensen. “But the raw talent and size that Jensen possesses at such a young age will have NHL scouts salivating over the prospect of developing him into a lethal two-way player.”

And if Jensen is chosen in the top ten, as the International Scouting Services are predicting as of now, he would be just the second Danish player in history to do so. Quite an impressive feat, for quite an impressive player.

Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.

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