Why Marco Kasper is a Perfect Draft Pick for the Detroit Red Wings

Marco Kasper. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Marco Kasper. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings selection of Marco Kasper at the 2022 NHL entry draft was very controversial. But the fans shouldn’t worry. There is more to him than what we see.

The Detroit Red Wings selected forward, Marco Kasper with their eighth overall selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The Twitterverse responded with disappointment or a collective “meh.” At best, there was the feeling of, “Well, I trust the Yzerplan, but I wanted Savoie (or Nazar, Lekkerimaki, Kemmell, Yurov, Lambert, or Ostlund).”

The complaints revolved around Kasper being perceived as having a limited offensive upside and projecting as a reliable second-line center or maybe a checking center on the third line. Even Yzerman felt the need to justify the pick with, “We think he has underrated skill.” Kasper is a perfect Red Wings choice at number eight. And here is why:

YouTube scouting biases perceptions

Highlights are available on nearly every player drafted. Usually, highlights are in 30-second to 2-minute videos. The eye-popping passes, laser shots, and dekes and dangles that make 16-year-old defensemen look silly are mislabeled as upside. YouTube sensations are not necessarily great hockey players (but I do like watching Trevor Zegras). Videos of reckless giveaways, consistently missed defensive coverage, and failure to see an open outlet pass are far more useful. These flaws and habits are not so easy to eliminate (see Brendan Smith, Ryan Sproul, and Dennis Cholowski, among other high-upside talents). Kasper cannot be scouted only by YouTube to see his full value.

What is upside?

Upside means some impressive skillset or size, but the player has yet to put everything together to make a complete player. Better to have a complete player than a fraction of a player. You cannot coach size and can only coach speed a little bit, but is not easy to coach hockey sense either.

Drafting because you hope the player reaches their potential is fine for the late rounds, but not the first round. Hope is never a consistently winning strategy. Remember these scouting reports: “Could not get on the ice with the senior team and when he did, he made little impact.” “Average speed.” “Not strong and not a big hitter.” “Too small framed to be an NHL defenseman.” “Smart all-around player and makes good decisions.” That was 3rd round selection Nicklas Lidstrom. Smart all-around player, strong skater, makes good decisions, and is tough on the boards defines Marco Kasper.

Simply because a player is well-coached and has a complete game does not mean there are limitations on his potential contribution at the NHL level. Being a smart player increases potential more than any other factor.

Playing against men

It is far easier to show offensive flashes when going against 16 or 17-year-olds, than against full-grown men and professional coaching. We will see many 18-year-olds with “big upsides” drop off dramatically when they play university hockey next year. And university hockey is not close to the level of the SHL. Kasper played against strong, fast, experienced, professional adult hockey players in an excellent league. He was trusted to play quality minutes as a rookie in 46 games (and 13 playoff games) with Rögle as a trusted center with a mature game.

He’s 18

Projecting development is not easy. Anyone who claims to know with 100% accuracy is not being truthful. But a tough, fast, smart, hard-working, and complete center at only 18 years of age is a good place to start.

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The Red Wings drafted a hockey player. Not a skater, a dangler, a shooter, a hulk, or a trick-shot artist. He is as smart and as complete a hockey player as is possible at this age. The goal is to win games, not make a great YouTube highlight reel. We should be thrilled to have Marco Kasper on the Red Wings.