MONTREAL — The Detroit Red Wings’ latest prize draft pick described himself as a “really competitive player. I want to win.”
Steve Yzerman banked on Austrian Marco Kasper with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round of the NHL draft on Thursday to continue the impressive impact made by the Wings’ first-round picks since Yzerman was named general manager in 2019.
Kasper, 18, posted seven goals and four assists with Rögle in the Swedish Hockey League in 2021-22, splitting time with its junior club where he had six goals and seven assists in 12 games. He’s a combination of skill and strength, has good hands and good speed, a great work ethic, and gives the Wings the blue-chip center prospect the organization needed.
“I know they are in a rebuild, but they have really good players,” Kasper said. “It’s a really good franchise.”
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It’s the fourth straight year Yzerman has chosen a European, following Germany’s Moritz Seider in 2019, and Swedes Lucas Raymond in 2020 and Simon Edvinsson in 2021.
Kasper (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) appeared in 10 games with the Rögle’s men’s team in 2020-21, which overlapped with Seider’s time with the club. The two spoke briefly when Austria and Germany met at the World Championship (Kasper had two assists in seven games) and Kasper is looking forward to renewing the camaraderie. Kasper is also familiar with Edvinsson from having played against him, and said, “It’s tough to play against him. It’s good that we’re now in the same organization.”
Kasper had his parents with him at the event at Bell Centre. He’s headed to Detroit to be a part of development camp next week.
“I’m really excited, for sure,” Kasper said. “There’s a great hockey culture there.”
It’s a culture the Wings hope Kasper can help return to competitiveness. Yzerman hasn’t fast-tracked any of his draft picks and Kasper is in an ideal situation in Rögle, the same place that two years ago had such a key role in Seider’s development. Kasper gets to play against men, which will help develop his 200-foot game. He can play all three forward positions, but ideally he develops as a center. Down the road, the projection is that Kasper and Dylan Larkin will give the Red Wings a solid 1-2 combo up the middle.
Kasper is a supremely competitive player who excels in front of the net. He posted three goals and three assists in 13 SHL playoff games.
“I want to be in every game,” he said. “That helps you win.”
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Kasper met with the Wings at the combine in June but said Thursday he didn’t have an inclination they were going to pick him.
“I’m really honored,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity and I’m going to do my best to get to the NHL as soon as possible and help the Detroit Red Wings win.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.