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MARKO Dano is only 23, yet the very real possibility exists that today he could join the fourth organization of his NHL career.
Dano, a fixture in the press box for much of his time in Winnipeg, including all five games this season, was placed on waivers Sunday by the Jets for the purpose of assigning him to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
The move was made to activate forward Nic Petan, who has been on an NHL-approved leave of absence following the death of his father, Franc, last month. Petan is expected to be added to the 23-man roster this morning.
By doing so, Winnipeg risks losing Dano, a former first-round selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets (27th overall in 2013), to another team, something the organization was clearly reluctant to do a year ago when he was forced to observe 59 times as a healthy scratch during the regular season — including a two-month stretch from late October to Jan. 2 — along with 17 straight playoff games.
There’s strong belief one of the league’s weak links, such as an Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Arizona or Detroit, might roll the dice and add the feisty 5-11, 195-pound winger, who’s yet to live up to the expectations of pro scouts and the three NHL teams that have employed him, including the Jets.
The odd man out for large chunks of the 2017-18 campaign, he had just two goals and an assist in 23 contests. Indeed, the Jets were flying and Jets coach Paul Maurice felt no need to tinker with his roster.
Now, the Jets have opted to stick with gritty Brendan Lemieux, who is waiver-exempt and had an impressive training camp, along with Petan as their extra forwards.
“We would have now a situation with Nic Petan coming back that we had to open up a roster spot,” Maurice said following his team’s 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
“It’s difficult, but there’s more to this. First of all, the Winnipeg Jets come first, so we would keep the guys that we had kind of next in line for a game.”
“But Marko has been an outstanding professional. Last year, he went through the entire year dealing with this, not being in. We want to give him an opportunity to play. And if he gets picked up, he’ll get an opportunity to go somewhere and play. And if not, we’ll look at getting him a chance to play with the Moose.
“He’s too young to go through what he went through last year,” added Maurice.
Considered a key piece in the Andrew Ladd trade in late February 2016, Dano has had minimal impact on the Jets fortunes. He’s suited up for just 82 games, netting 10 goals and 22 points while playing limited fourth-line minutes.
In five NHL seasons, Dano has suited up for just 130 games, registering 19 goals and 45 points.
The Slovakian winger had a promising start to his NHL career, scoring eight goals and supplying 13 assists in 35 games for the Blue Jackets in his rookie season (2014-15), while splitting time with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. Looking to alter the look and feel of their roster in the summer of 2015, the Blue Jackets swapped four players — Artem Anisimov, Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp — and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Brandon Saad, along with prospects Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliott.
Dano got in just 13 games for Chicago, scoring once, and was packaged up with a first-round pick (Logan Stanley) and sent to Winnipeg for Ladd.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).