Marco Kasper latest Red Wings draft pick to get late-season pro orientation

Detroit News

About an hour after Thursday’s exciting victory over Carolina, the Red Wings made a personnel move that will caffeinate the fan base for the final two weeks of the regular season.

The Wings recalled forward Marco Kasper, the team’s first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2022 Entry Draft.

Kasper is with the team in Winnipeg and will wear No. 92.

But exactly when Kasper, who will turn 19 on April 8, will make his NHL debut remains unclear. The Wings didn’t have a morning skate Friday in Winnipeg.

Beginning with Sunday’s game in Toronto, there are seven games left on the Wings’ schedule. The Wings will not practice Saturday. Coach Derek Lalonde was expected to address Kasper’s situation before or after Friday’s game in Winnipeg.

Kasper spent this season in Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League, collecting 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) and a plus-seven rating, along with 72 penalty minutes, in 52 games. Kasper added three assists in nine postseason games.

At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Kasper plays a gritty, edgy game that could project well to the NHL. But Kasper also possesses good offensive instincts and his competitive style attracted the Wings to him from early in last year’s scouting process.

“He’s not super flashy with backhand toe-drags and whatever,” general manager Steve Yzerman said after the Wings drafted Kasper. “He makes the right play, can make a pass. He’s got a good shot. He can carry the puck up the ice. He’s very efficient.

“He plays very simple. He drives to the net. He’ll drive down the wing. He can take the puck to the net. He’ll also pull up and look for the late guy, or he can find a guy through the seams.

“I really like everything about the way he plays. He’s got good hockey sense. We think he’s a good, solid, all-around hockey player.”

The Wings assigned Kasper No. 92. Kasper’s teammate in Rogle, defenseman William Wallinder (2020 second-round draft pick), is expected to make his North American pro debut this weekend with the Wings’ minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids.

Forward Carter Mazur (2021, third round) made his debut with the Griffins earlier in the week, as the Wings began working some of their draft picks into pro hockey.

Ned of old

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic earned his second consecutive victory Thursday, in his second straight start, while defeating his former Carolina teammates, 3-2, on Jake Walman’s goal with four seconds left.

“That’s the Ned that we know and he played unreal,” Walman said. “More than a couple of big saves. He won us that game for sure.”

Lalonde feels Nedeljkovic brings an element to the ice that can help the Wings.

“The thing that might go unnoticed is how well he handles the puck,” Lalonde said. “It just helps us a ton with our breakouts, especially against a forechecking juggernaut like (Carolina).

“He was competing, for sure, and the bottom line is just winning. He was real good throughout.”

No letting up

Coupled with a convincing victory over Pittsburgh, the win over Carolina showed the Wings are intent on finishing this season strong despite a decimated lineup through trades and injuries.

When asked about playing the spoiler role with the wins over Pittsburgh and Carolina, Walman didn’t feel the Wings were necessarily in that role. Walman felt the Wings were getting something tangible out of these games.

“It’s not really spoiling for us,” Walman said. “These games are meaningful for us with the young team that we’ve got. It’s a lot of experience playing against teams that are battling for playoff spots. This is our playoffs, so every game is important, and it will help us next year and in the long run.

“The young guys on our team, we’re a growing team, we’re building and hopefully we can build into something like (Carolina).”

Ice chips

Walman’s goal Thursday was the third-latest go-ahead goal in Wings’ franchise history behind Steve Yzerman (59:58 on Oct. 9, 2003 vs. Los Angeles) and Brendan Shanahan (59:57 on April 4, 1998 at Chicago).

… Dominik Kubalik scored his 20th goal Thursday, reaching the 20-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career. Kubalik scored 30 as rookie with Chicago in 2019-20.

… Moritz Seider assisted on Kubalik’s goal, Seider’s 76th career NHL assist, tying Alex Delvecchio for thefifth-most by a Red Wings player before the age of 22. The only others with more assists prior to their 22nd birthday are Yzerman (194), Gordie Howe (101), Marcel Dionne (99) and Dylan Larkin (84).… The Red Wings are 23-4-0 this season when allowing two or fewer goals.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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