OPINION: 2022 NHL Draft profile: Marco Kasper

With three first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Sabres have a lot of options on the table
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The next of our multi-part series surrounding NHL Draft profiles focuses on an Austrian-born forward playing in the Swedish Hockey League.

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Marco Kasper is considered by many to be a diamond in the rough in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. With players like Shane Wright, Logan Cooley and Juraj Slafkovsky taking the spotlight, teams may be less focused on players like Kasper.

The Austrian is ranked fifth amongst European Skates by NHL Central Scouting, and is projected to be drafted anywhere between the eighth and 23rd overall picks, which is a rather broad spectrum for a player of his caliber.

Marco Kasper
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Profile

Kasper has spent the past two seasons playing in Sweden with the Rögle BK program at the SHL level and Sweden’s junior league, J20 Nationell.

During his draft season this past year, the native of Innsbruck, Austria played a total of 58 games between the two levels, but surprisingly logged more minutes in the SHL than in the junior league. In those 58 games, he combined to tallie 13 goals and 11 assists for a total of 24 points.

Kasper, like many European prospects, finds himself playing against players his own age, as well as plenty of veterans players, including some former NHLers who head overseas to keep their careers going once the NHL is no longer an option.

The 18-year-old also has plenty of international experience playing with the Austrian National Team. At the age of 16, Kasper played in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he registered an assist in four games played. At the 2022 IIHF World Championship this past May, Kasper recorded two assists in seven games.

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Positives

Kasper has a nose for the net, and knows exactly how to get there. The 6-foot-2 center focuses on crashing the net after dumping the puck off to one of his teammates to cause disruption in front of the net as a shot is taken.

If a pass isn’t available, Kasper uses his size and skating ability to control the puck until a shot or passing lane develops. This is an intriguing style of play that combines the physicality of a power forward with the mindset of a playmaker.

Along with the playmaking ability, Kasper exemplifies great awareness on the forecheck, proving to be a force in junior leagues and slowly developing his dominance in the SHL, as well.

He uses his increasing size and speed to take the puck from opposing defensemen or pester them until they make a costly mistake.

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Negatives

The main negative that could cause issues for Kasper in his first years in the NHL would be his speed. There are times that Kasper has been caught trying to evade defenders with the puck and can’t seem to get that extra step on them.

This could be a contributing factor as to why he can’t consistently produce points.

Another negative that’s seen with Kasper is his shot speed. While he primarily focuses his game on being a net-front presence, scoring primarily rebounds and deflections, he needs to be able to shoot the puck at a high velocity.

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NHL comparison

There are many players throughout the NHL who pride themselves on being a hybrid of a playmaker and power forward, but the one who best compares to Kasper is Joe Pavelski.

Pavelski is one of the elite players in the league that always makes something happen in front of the net, while also setting his teammates up for some highlight-reel goals. Pavelski has recorded 924 points in 1,168 career NHL games.

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Where does he fit in on the Sabres?

The Sabres have one of the best pools of young centers in the league with Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, and Casey Mittelstadt.

Adding to this is only a positive, considering that Kasper could take two-to-three years to make it to the NHL.

Kasper could prove to be a very underrated first-round pick, with the potential to be a steady second or third-line center in the league for years to come.

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