Great Dane journey

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

As far as his last coach is concerned, Mikkel Boedker's junior career should be over.

Indeed, Peter DeBoer believes Central Scouting's 11th-ranked prospect is already good enough to take the next step.

"I think he's as ready as any player I've seen since (Steven) Stamkos .... I'd be shocked if he's not playing in the NHL next year," DeBoer said at the Memorial Cup, where he coached the Kitchener Rangers and Boedker was one of his second-line wingers and a point man on his power play. "I think once whoever drafts him gets him to training camp, they're going to be pleasantly surprised with how ready this kid is."

Depending on how biased that scouting report is, Boedker's name could be called much sooner than expected tonight.

Either way, his ultimate arrival in the NHL will mark the conclusion of a whirlwind journey that had an unlikely origin.

Born in Brandby, Denmark, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder was selected fifth overall in the 2007 CHL Import Draft and adapted quickly to the North American style of play. Boedker finished second on the powerhouse Rangers in scoring during the regular season with 73 points, including 29 goals. He also finished second in playoff scoring with 35 points and had another six in five Memorial Cup games.

The emergence has him poised to be the greatest of Danes to be drafted into the NHL, a trend that began in earnest when the Islanders took centre Frans Nielson in the third round of 2002. The Senators used a 2004 third-round pick on another Dane, Peter Regin, who they've just signed to a three-year deal.

Last year, the St. Louis Blues made Lars Eller the highest selected Dane, 13th overall.

WELL, IT'S NOT SOCCER

"Compared to soccer and stuff like that, it's not the biggest thing," Boedker said in near-perfect English of the excitement over the NHL draft in his homeland, "but when it comes closer I think it'll be in the papers and stuff like that. It's just fun when you get the opportunity to be in the papers in your country"

Boedker's been on the move since he was 15, when he left his parents' home to play a more developed brand of hockey in Sweden. That helped him with the transition to Canada.

So did defenceman Yannick Weber, a Canadiens pick who played for Kitchener and billeted with Boedker last year. Weber is from Switzerland.

"It's always hard to come from Europe to here by yourself, so you just try and make him feel at home," said Weber.

DeBoer says Boedker's maturity level is "unbelievable."

"I always put it like, if you put the shoe on the other foot and have a Canadian parent sending their son away at 14 to a country where they didn't speak the language, then to another country where they didn't speak the language, with new people and situations they didn't know a lot about ... you grow up pretty quickly," said DeBoer. "He's 17, 18 going on 25."

Boedker was 89 in Kitchener, as in jersey No. 89, sparking memories of a young Alexander Mogilny.

"(Boedker's) got world-class speed, he's explosive, he's strong and he's competitive," said DeBoer. "When you're standing behind a bench, whether it's in the NHL or the OHL, everybody is looking for those types of players.

"Players that can back teams off with their speed, that are willing to go into the corners and try and win battles, and that are defensively responsible. This kid does all of that."

Boedker acknowledged that it took time to feel comfortable on the smaller ice surface.

"But right now, every time I get the puck I feel comfortable and I just want to get the puck all the time. That's an awesome feeling."


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