Marco Kasper is a centreman who was born in Innsbruck, Austria in April 2004. At the age of 16, Kasper left his youth club Klagenfurt to move to Sweden before the 2020-21 season. Since then, he has established himself as a dynamic two-way forward with a blue-colour attitude while playing for Rögle in the SHL.
Offensively, Kasper is an imposing combination of grit and skill that is a handful for the opposition around the net. Not only does he have a high work ethic, he also as the physicality to back it up. Kasper consistently generate high-danger scoring chances, which he has the hands to capitalize on. Albeit his offensive abilities, it is at the defensive end of the ice that Kasper earns his paycheck. He is eager to help out for puck-battles in the corner, and robust when knocking attackers off the puck. Kasper´s offensive abilities, solid work-ethic, and ambitious demeanour makes him an attractive player if left on the board late in the first round at the draft.
At the halfway mark of the 2021-22 season, Kasper has played the vast majority of the games at the pro level in the SHL, averaging a little over 11 minutes per game. Though his stat line of 4+2 in 25 games can seem underwhelming, he has shown that he can drive offence in a good pro league. This has Kasper ranked around pick #20 in the 2022 NHL draft by the major draft boards.
|Date of Birth||April 08, 2004|
|Place of Birth||Innsbruck, Austria|
|FCHockey Draft Ranking||24 (December 2021)|
|NHL Draft Eligibility||2022|
Kasper is a two-way forward that works ambitiously all over the ice. In fact, he makes defensively sound decisions all over the ice, especially on the forecheck where he is quick to cover open ice behind a checking teammate. If Kasper approaches the forecheck as the first forward, he finishes his checks with few exceptions. An accurate reflection of his character is how he turns to backcheck with the same high intensity after finishing a check. Kasper is just as defensively sound when his team sets up a trapping structure as he is on the forecheck. During the trap, his hockey sense is evident as he frequently makes solid judgements on when to check.
Kasper is just as aggressive in the defensive zone as he is on offence. While played as a centreman, he is aggressive and assertive to box out opponents to the corners. If an opponent is handling the puck along the half-wall, he uses his manoeuvrability to track the attacker. By doing so, he uses his intelligence to assess and track the attacker’s movement so that he can assertively attack as soon as a seam presents itself. His hitting in the defensive zone is made possible due to his intense skating and ability to gain power during a few quick strides. Kasper also shows grit by absorbing hits without any frustration while playing against men.
Kasper is capable of anticipating where the puck is going in the defensive zone, which makes him a legitimate SHL-player and leaves him looking like a man among boys in the J20 Nationell. This ability has served him well on the PK in the J20 Nationell, a privilege he has yet to earn at the SHL level. Considering Kasper´s ability to read play and assertiveness in the defensive zone, he could project as a PK-specialist in the future.
With his strong straight-line skating, Kasper is able to transport the puck up the ice at a high pace. His powerful strides are particularly useful when entering the offensive zone. Kasper is skilled enough to stickhandle through defensemen, but it is his strength and willingness to power his way to the net that stands out. Kasper´s desire to drive the net is imposing and he shows no fear while doing so. In tight, he can deke goalies, although one of his best weapons while close to the net is his quick and powerful wrister. He can fire his shot in tight traffic, making his wrister especially useful.
Kasper´s ability to protect and transport the puck through traffic makes him a threat around the opposing crease. He combines poise with the puck with the good habit of always moving his feet. He will rarely throw a blind pass and will rather re-instate the puck in deep if he is too tightly checked. For the distribution of the puck, he is aided by is hockey sense to get a clue of what is going on behind is back while protecting the puck.
While Kasper has been limited to equal-strength ice time in the SHL, he has been given plenty of PP-time in the J20 Nationell. Here, he has achieved a great deal of success positioned around the net through deflections and screening, or as a puck-moving threat. His playmaking has been on display when aligned along the goal line or just beside his net. From that position, he has been able to distribute the puck from a deep position in the offensive zone while delivering opening passes to both the half-wall, the blueline, and the bumper position. Positioned in front of the net, he is quick to coral loose pucks and hard to move out of his position while screening the goalie. Kasper´s presence in front of the opposing net stirs up emotions and he oftentimes find himself in altercations after the whistle.
Kasper is a dynamic and powerful skater whose speed is an integral part of his game. His lower-body strength is on display as he accelerates from a standstill position. His ability to separate himself from opponents using his jets during the first strides is first-round worthy.
Kasper´s power generates high top end speed. He maintains his pace well after accelerating, even while navigating through tight traffic. To keep his speed, he uses his agile footwork and crossovers where he cannot extend his strides. His balance is also strong. He manages to move quickly without being pushed around during physical hassles.
Kasper is agile in tight spaces, which helps him when tracking a stick-handling opponent. His skating is versatile, which allows him to maintain speed throughout pivots and direction shifts. As a result of this Kasper never seems surprised or flat-footed when covering opponents during the cycle.
Kasper is a mature two-way forward working with high intensity. His responsibility all over the ice and paired with his strong skating abilities could have him NHL-ready earlier than some of his peers. Also, bear in mind that Kasper started is pro hockey career as early as the 2020-21 season, making 10 appearances in the SHL. As of early January 2022, he is the player that has made most appearances in the SHL by any draft-eligible player active in Sweden.
The fact that Kasper plays pro could, however, be a two-edged sword. Averaging 11 minutes per game in the SHL could restrain a player´s development, especially when it comes to offence. Kasper´s competition for offensive roster spot is unusually tough, playing on a top team in the SHL.
Regardless of Kasper´s offensive projection, the team that drafts him can be confident to land a hard-working player with a good attitude. Kasper´s combination of grit and skill could make him an interesting future in the NHL!