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2022 NHL Draft prospect profile: Marco Kasper’s low production shouldn’t be a concern

He didn’t feature regularly on the scoresheet, but he was a key part of his teams’ success in 2021-22.

Austria v Finland: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Marco Kasper could have chosen an easier path to make a bigger impression in his draft year. He could have gone to one of the Junior leagues in North America, or a smaller European league. Kasper, however, chose the SHL, one of the tougher leagues for a draft-eligible player to break into. He also chose one of the top teams in said league, Rögle, a team that has developed Nils Höglander and Moritz Seider in recent years. Kasper is fully focused on developing into a NHL player and has taken a longer road to get there by learning the trade, both on and off the ice, before taking the next step in his career.

His coach, Cam Abbott, says that he has to make sure Kasper leaves the rink. Video coaching is an integrated part of Kasper’s development, and Coach Abbott is clear that Kasper is an intelligent player with a huge hockey IQ. One thing that Abbott also points out is that his player has a good goal-scoring ability, something that many scouts and journalists have pointed out as a weakness. That points to the difficult setting that Kasper has chosen to develop in.

Kasper has been slotted somewhere in 15 to 25 range of the rankings this year, and one would think that Kasper’s recent World Championship has impressed teams further. The question is if he can break into the top 10, but realistically he should now go somewhere between 10-15.

Birthplace: Innsbruck, Austria
Date of birth: April 8, 2004
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187 lbs.
Team: Rögle BK (SHL)

Elite Prospects

Kasper is a centre who relies on fantastic skating and his hockey sense, using both attributes to drive play and create chances. He benefits from his size to handle pressure from opponents, be it along the boards or in open ice. He protects the puck with his reach and stays upright due to his skating and balance. If this doesn’t work, he uses his vision and awareness to find open players, attacking with speed to break into the zone or set up chances.

His excellent skating skill comes down to his technique. Inside and outside edge-work lends itself to quick pivoting and maintaining speed throughout the turn. The one weakness he has in his skating is that he needs to accelerate out of the turn better to keep the opponent away. The agility that he shows makes him difficult to get a grip on, so he can create something out of nothing.

His hockey IQ shows up in everything he does on the ice. He reads the game well and looks to distribute the puck to players who are open, and with speed. He doesn’t really look for the pass between defenders or into the crowd, he looks to play a simple, effective game, relying on his own skills to do so. His talent is found in other elements of his play, with his skating, vision, and strength over the puck giving him the opportunity to drive the play.

One could argue that he does that as he is playing at a higher level, and personally I haven’t seen him enough in the U20s to see if he uses those passes against his peers. It is one thing that I think he will need to improve upon to grow his game.

He uses the same strength in the defensive zone, and his reach and positioning make him a disruptive force in his own end, causing turnovers and steals on his own.

The one thing that stands out the most is Kasper’s lack of goals. Despite most of the ones he did get coming from in close, Coach Abbott says that his shot is underrated and it could be something that will surprise later on. Not scoring from further out on the ice doesn’t mean he lacks a goal-scoring touch, it means that he plays in a tougher league. I would agree with this assessment, but I will still call Kasper’s shot a weakness until proven wrong.

Rankings

Dobber Prospects: #19
Elite Prospects: #17
FC Hockey: #18
Bob McKenzie: #17
McKeen’s: #15
Craig Button: #27
NHL Central Scouting: #5 (European skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): #9
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #27

Discussion

There are few who doubt that Kasper will be an NHL player, the question is where he will end up. His ceiling is a middle-six centre in in the NHL. He shows a clear drive to reach this goal by choosing to play with men in his draft season. The team has finished in the top two the last two seasons, with one league final and one semifinal loss, and also won the Champions Hockey League in 2022. He has been an integral part of this success since his his arrival.

His various skills will make him an interesting choice for a team in the middle of the first round. Kasper could be taken earlier, much like Moritz Seider was in 2019, if a team likes him. There are rankings from people I trust that have him as a top-10 pick, and as rankings lists get finalized from the publications listed above, he may be found in that range there as well.

The team that drafts him would determine if he plays in the AHL or SHL. Given Rögle’s progression as a team, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays for another year in Europe.


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