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What the Detroit Red Wings are Getting in Marco Kasper

The Red Wings have landed some great picks in the past couple of drafts, and adding Marco Kasper only strengthens it.
Marco Kasper

The Detroit Red Wings' prospect pool looked a little barren before the 2019 draft. 

Filip Zadina was the best prospect back then, and while he has stuck around in the NHL the past few years, he had a career-high 24 points in 74 games this year. Joe Veleno finally played in a mostly full season, recording 15 points in 66 games this year. Jared McIsaac still hasn't played an NHL game yet. 

Steve Yzerman's track record ever since has been nothing short of incredible, though. Moritz Seider just won the Calder Trophy. Lucas Raymond had a good case to be a finalist himself. Simon Edvinsson and Sebastian Cossa were fantastic grabs from the 2021 draft, and there are a host of other prospects from the past three years that could make an impact. 

Now, add Marco Kasper to the fray. It's hard to screw up a pick early in the draft, but Kasper looks like he can be something at the next level.

"He really forced himself into the top 10 conversation as the season went on because he's such a fascinating player," a scout said. "Detroit made the right choice taking him. He's going to be great."

Marco Kasper

After going eighth overall, Kasper became the second highest drafted player in Austrian history behind Thomas Vanek after the Buffalo Sabres picked him fifth overall in 2003. Kasper just edged out Marco Rossi (ninth overall, 2020) by one spot and became the fourth Austrian ever selected in the first round.

So, for Kasper, there's a nice sense of pride. And the Red Wings are getting an electrifying forward with a bright future.

At 18, Kasper has nearly games of pro experience with Rogle during regular season, playoff and Champions Hockey League play. He doesn't have a ton of offense to show for, but SHL teams are conditioned to win, which means some top prospects get lost in the shuffle. As a comparison, Kasper had 11 points in 46 regular season games compared to Lucas Raymond's 10 points in 33 games in his NHL draft year. Definitely a better points-per-game average for Raymond, one of the top rookies in the NHL this past season, but still solid results for Kasper, who led all U-18 SHLers in scoring this year.

Kasper had six points in 11 games with Austria's men's national team, where he quickly forced himself up the lineup, playing over 19 minutes a night in three outings at the World Championship.

"It's tough to play against men, I think seeing what the pros do every day, it's helped me to see what it is to live like a pro and it's helped me a lot," Kasper said at the NHL draft combine in early June. 

What Kasper really gained this year is an improved two-way game. As time has passed, his defensive play has allowed him to become a more effective player in his own zone, especially in clearing traffic in front of the net. At 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, Kasper packs a lot of punch into his frame, battling hard in scrums and causing damage in front of the net. He simply doesn't quit on plays, using his quick feet to get to the puck quickly and using his energetic, tenacious attack to keep control of it to his advantage.

"He just knows where to be," a European scout said. "His defensive game got better as he worked with pro coaches and it hasn't done anything to hurt his offensive game."

Kasper finished third in the VO2 Max fitness test at the combine, considered one of the most important factors for players finding success early in the NHL. How early in Kasper's case isn't really clear. Last week, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and recently participated in Detroit's development camp. Kasper confirmed on Instagram that he plans to return to Rogle next season, where he'll have the opportunity to become a more regular contributor alongside fellow Red Wings prospect Theodor Niederbach. There's no need to rush Kasper, especially as the Red Wings continue to rebuild and work with some of the team's newest signings this summer.

So, patience is a virtue here. And that's OK, because many scouts believe Kasper has the potential to become a big-time contributor for Detroit. This group didn't have a ton to show for, prospect-wise, a few years ago, but Steve Yzerman and Co. have turned that into an opportunity to build an incredible young base that should be competitive before too long.

There's a lot to like about what the Red Wings are doing, and Kasper is a big part of the equation. Get excited, Detroit fans.

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