Detroit Red Wings don’t have a friendly ghost in Marco Kasper

A friendly, gentleman off the ice, Detroit Red Wings prospect Marco Kasper is anything but on the ice. This season was a roller coaster, here’s why.

After reviewing Sebastian Cossa’s season and future with the Detroit Red Wings, our next stop on the tour includes Marco Kasper. Throughout the season, both players had their ups and downs, but are easy for me to describe.

Both players had rougher starts. I would have loved for Cossa to grab the starter’s job within the first few weeks (or months) of the season, but that just didn’t happen. It might have worked out for the best considering the progression and maturity Cossa has shown. His poise is years ahead of where it began this season.

Meanwhile, Kasper came on the scene last season, in 2022-23. He only played a game in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I thought that he didn’t look out of place at all. Once I learned he played (at least) part of the game on a broken kneecap, his play impressed me even more.

It was a bit of a let down when he and newcomer Nate Danielson joined training camp with the big boys. Danielson played the way that I expected Kasper to play. If it was a year similar to 2021-22, I think that Danielson might have stayed–even if only for a few regular season games.

On the other hand, Kasper faded into the background. Coming off of a broken kneecap cannot be easy. Although I haven’t broken a kneecap that I’m aware of, I have fallen on both and it wasn’t pleasant, to say the least. To think of doing more than whining in my bed or on the couch with my knee in the air in complete agony is an impossibility.

Kasper transitioned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, but it wasn’t smooth sailing to be considered a playoff standout.

For Kasper recovering quickly enough and well enough to even make training camp is a feat in itself. Add to it, coming to (another) new country, getting use to speaking English full-time, being integrated into a new team, and learning new systems is rarely a seamless transition. 

Kasper’s play reflected these challenges. I remember traveling to see the Grand Rapids Griffins play. I was to focus on a specific player each game, but kept failing at my goal of focusing on Kasper. 

When he’s playing at the top of his game, Kasper is stirring the opponents’ drinks, finishing hits, screening opposing goaltenders, clearing Cossa’s crease, and sticking up for his teammates. Every now and then, he flashes his shooting and passing abilities.

In the beginning of the 2023-24 season, Kasper tried to do all of the above from what i remember. I could never question his work ethic, dedication, or effort. However, I questioned his effectiveness, ability to impact the game, and skill level. I really thought, we might be lucky if he’s a third or fourth line center.

I am happy to report, my viewings and opinions early in the season were very shortsighted. 

Kasper about halfway through the season Kasper found himself. Seemingly, things just clicked for him and his game. It seemed like Kasper is a sure bet to be a third ilne center in the NHL.

Then, his team entered the playoffs. If he found himself during the regular season, Kasper activated his beast mode switch during the Grand Rapids Griffins playoff run. 

In the playoffs, Kasper finished with this stat line according to Elite Prospects:

Games Played: 9 Goals: 4 Assists: 3 Total Points: 7 Penalty Minutes (PIM): 14 Plus/Minus: +1

I can hear the detractors now, “he took 14 penalty minutes! No wonder the Grand Rapids Griffins lost in the playoffs.”

This is a case where the numbers don’t paint an entire picture. Of the 14 PIM, 10 of those minutes came from a game misconduct. I think he might have hurt the referees’ feelings or something, who knows?

If that 10 minute misconduct penalty is removed, it leaves 2 minor penalties. For as hard as Kasper plays, it’s an impressive figure. Not quite as impressive as Simon Edvinsson’s skating, but close.

He was feisty, but hardly crossed the lines as he kept himself out of the sinbin more often than not. 

As for his brain, Kasper is focused on the details of the game. For example, when he’s screening the opposing goaltender, Kasper isn’t just standing there. He’s constantly moving in and out of the goaltender’s line of sight. At times, he’s jumping up so pucks can find their way through the goaltender.

On the other side of the rink, Kasper is playing hard in front of his own net. He seems to take pleasure in keeping his goaltender safe, while making sure nobody overstays their welcome in the blue paint. He makes life unbearable for opposing players and they tend to choose areas of the ice where Kasper isn’t. 

To me, he’s almost like a travel-sized, forward-version of Moritz Seider. Wicked smart, super focused on the game, and criminally underrated. There aren’t any real flaws in their games. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but if any player will make said improvements, I’d put my money on those two (and Lucas Raymond, but he’s a completely different player).

Do I overrate him like I do with Seider, too? More than likely. 

For me, the most valuable player (MVP) of the Grand Rapids Griffins playoff race is a tie between Cossa and Kasper. Both can share the metaphorical award equally.

As for his future with the Detroit Red Wings, Kasper is more than a promising prospect. He’s a bonafide fan-favorite and a pain in the…for everyone else. He’s just what the doctor ordered for a wimpy Detroit Red Wings lineup (at times).

In the future, I would love seeing Kasper as a third line center for the Detroit Red Wings. He could easily fill in on the second line as needed. If he reaches his top ceiling, we might see Kasper as a regular second line center. 

I really enjoyed watching Kasper play with Jonatan Berggren and Carter Mazur throughout the season and a tiny bit in the playoffs. With the Detroit Red Wings, I would love to see Kasper with a similar line makeup. An ultra skilled winger and another gritty winger with a scoring touch. If Kasper can become the dominant, two-way, defensively elite player, he might be able ot hold the fort down for 2 highly skilled wingers.

The tippy top dream for Kasper might be on a line with Raymond and Berggren on the second line. Berggren and Kasper already play off of each other incredibly well. While Berggren and Raymond had hiccups in their adventure in Las Vegas, Nevada, this season (and a bit in Buffalo, New York, too), more practice time and consistency would mitigate the problems with those players. Having the dad-type player of the group in Kasper (who’s younger than both Raymond and Berggren, ironically) should help them too.

If Kasper hits to his mid-level ceiling, he might make a great center for players like Michael Rasmussen and Joseph Veleno as a third line. The line might have suprising pops of skill, possibly even channeling a grind line situation. Easily becoming fan favorites and enemies of any opposing teams, they would cause havoc on the ice and I’m here for it.

Fortunately for Detroit Red Wings fans, Kasper can play on both special teams.

It’s likely we won’t see Kasper in a Detroit Red Wings jersey for another half-to-full season. He’s still working through consistency (not in effort, but effectiveness). WIth a big summer, though, I reckon he will look to steal someone else’s spot as early as October. 

Kasper is very flexible and complimentary of basically any line or situation. From coaches to fans to teammates, Kasper is Mr. Reliable and it will be a privilege to watch him continue in his career.

Next. May 29. Detroit Red Wings Sebastian Cossa is a monster. dark