Red Wings Prospect Rankings: #3 Marco Kasper

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Marco Kasper rose in draft conversations throughout his entire draft year, but even his most fervent supporters were likely surprised that he ultimately went eighth overall in the 2022 Draft to the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings had a well-documented need at center going into the draft so they clearly believed that Kasper would be a good fit for them, and they also believed he had more offense to give in the SHL.

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Marco Kasper, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kasper is an incredibly hard worker, often creating plays from nothing through sheer force of will. He has been successful as a teenager playing against men in one of the world’s best professional hockey leagues, with over 100 SHL games played to his name before his 19th birthday. Kasper may never be the flashiest or highest scoring player, but his work ethic and constant motion will make him an excellent piece of the next great Red Wings team.

Scouting Report

Kasper is a two-way center who plays with a ton of energy and patience, earning him a consistent role as the second/third line center for Rögle in the SHL despite being just 18 for the length of last season. He was able to earn and hold down that spot because of his remarkably mature, mistake-free game which is incredibly uncommon for players of his age. Kasper is great in board battles and constantly makes plays in the middle of the ice which leaves little doubt that he could succeed as a center in the NHL. 

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He is comfortable, even confident, when charging toward the net to create a bit of chaos as well as scoring chances. Kasper’s skating, puck skills, and shot are all good enough to safely project as a good NHL center, but his compete level is so strong that it makes him much more likely to be an excellent player. 

NHL Comparable

Kasper is a difficult player to find an NHL comp for because there are still questions about how much he will be able to produce in the NHL offensively. If his offense hits in the NHL, I could see him having a similar impact to Dawson Mercer of the New Jersey Devils as either an excellent third-line center or a great top-six winger. 

If Kasper’s offensive game takes longer to fully develop, I think he could compare a bit better to someone like Sam Bennett in the early years of his career. Both comparables are guys who are known for their motors and who have good two-way value even when the points aren’t flowing. Mercer has scored at a 0.59 points-per-game (PPG) rate in the first two seasons of his career while Bennett is sitting at 0.45 PPG for his career. If Kasper can land somewhere in the middle while providing the physicality and defensive play that we expect, he will be a very valuable piece for Detroit.

Kasper’s Draft Year

Marco Kasper was relatively unknown at the start of his draft year, steadily rising up draft boards the entire season until he was a consensus first round pick with a chance of going in the top-16. I was relatively high on Kasper during his draft year, but even I thought that taking him at eighth overall would be a bit of a reach. The biggest gripe people had with Kasper’s game was that it didn’t seem like he would have much offense to give, especially not in the NHL, though Steve Yzerman made it clear at the 2022 Draft that the team believed he had much more to show going forward.

Turns out the Red Wings were right to bet on an offensive boom from Kasper as he doubled his previous season total for points in his draft+1 year, going from 11 to 23 points while playing a much bigger role for a playoff bound SHL team. Kasper was also excellent for Rögle while playing in the Champions Hockey League where he scored nine points in 10 games.

What’s Next for Kasper?

Kasper signed an entry-level deal with the Red Wings following the conclusion of Rögle’s SHL playoff run, and even got into his first NHL game before being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a broken patella (kneecap). Kasper is battling for an NHL roster spot at this year’s training camp and preseason, but is most likely going to play the majority of this season in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins as a result of Detroit’s improved forward depth. 

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Kasper would need to have a phenomenal showing in the preseason to surpass the likes of Jonathan Berggren, Elmer Söderblom, and Klim Kostin to earn a spot in the Red Wings’ lineup to start the year, but it’s certainly not impossible. His effort level on both ends of the ice could be pretty attractive to Detroit’s coaching staff, especially considering he plays with the physicality and defensive awareness that head coach Derek Lalonde is constantly preaching.

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He was a great top-six player for a good SHL team last year so I expect him to be at least as much in the AHL this season with the Griffins, with a chance of being a star player if his offensive game pops from day one in Grand Rapids. 

When Could Kasper be in Detroit?

Kasper could be in Detroit as soon as this October, though I think it’s most likely that he gets his next chance in the NHL toward the end of the season where the Red Wings will likely give him a handful of games, assuming the playoff race is out of the picture once again in an ultra-competitive Atlantic division

Marco Kasper Detroit Red Wings
Marco Kasper, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I expect Kasper will be a full-time member of the Red Wings’ lineup at the start of the 2024-25 season, likely as a winger in the middle-six forward group before moving to the center position once he has fully adapted to the speed and physicality of the NHL game. I think in his prime with Detroit, Kasper will be best suited as either a winger in the top-six where he can play a Zach Hyman type game as a puck-retrieval and play driving wizard or as a great two-way center in the middle-six.

Bottom Line

I’m a huge fan of Kasper’s game and I think he will quickly endear himself to Red Wings fans once he officially arrives with his hard-working attitude, borderline-pest play-style and his ability to be in the right place at the right time defensively. I’m not sold that he has enough offense to really pop in the NHL, but if he can become either a top-six winger or a middle-six center who kills penalties, then Kasper will still be a really valuable piece for Detroit’s future.

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