Aleksanteri Kaskimaki – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Aleksanteri Kaskimaki

2021-22 Team: HIFK U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
Date of Birth: February 6, 2004
Place of Birth: Espoo, Finland
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 183 pounds
Shoots: L
Position: C
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible

Rankings

At the start of the 2021-22 season, many scouts and analysts predicted Aleksanteri Kaskimaki to be a third-to-fourth-round pick. Primarily playing in the junior-Finnish league of the U20 SM-sarja, the exposure he received wasn’t on a large scale compared to other draft-eligible prospects, landing him in the 20th spot among European skaters in NHL’s Central Scouting’s latest rankings. Then, he caught fire, posting a point-per-game pace in the Finnish league while tearing it up at the international level, helping Finland to a gold medal at this year’s European Youth Olympic Festival. It was the exposure he needed to finally get the world to notice him and recognize his talent.

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Offensively, Kaskimaki has many tools at his disposal. Gifted with soft hands and accurate wrist and backhand shots, he’s capable of handling pucks down low and fooling opposing defenders with his craftiness. Goaltenders have a hard time reading his stickhandling in high-danger areas, as he teases a wrist shot before switching gears and getting the puck to the back of his blade in the blink of an eye. At the same time, he’s not shy to distribute the puck to open teammates and can also draw two players in with what appears to be a shot, only to pass it off to a streaking linemate for a goal. He’s as deceptive a playmaker as he is a shooter, posing a threat whenever the puck touches his stick.

Defensively, there’s still a lot to be desired, but there are some strong points. Kaskimaki receives plenty of time on the penalty kill with HIFK U20 and reads the play well. He’s engaged at all times and covers passing lanes well enough to get by. What’s holding him back is that as his fatigue-level rises, his decision-making becomes questionable. There were many moments this season when he was caught on a long shift and failed to cover the point, leading to scoring chances against. At even strength, his transition game in the neutral zone is inconsistent, and from time to time, he will coast into the defensive zone.

Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Team Finland
Aleksanteri Kaskimaki, Team Finland (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)

Kaskimaki’s skating is exceptional among his draft class, as he is explosive, has good acceleration, and his first few steps are a marvel to watch. In the defensive zone, he tends to pivot when his defensemen have control of the puck while picking up speed as he exits the zone. If teammates find him with an outlet pass, there’s a good chance he’ll blow past the opposition and carry the puck in rather than rely on the dump and chase.

Physically, he’s engaged in the offensive zone and is often seen using his body to separate defensemen from pucks while anchoring in corners and protecting it well. Kaskimaki is very consistent when it comes to one-on-one battles, and while his frame isn’t particularly large, he plays a big game. He’s also very difficult to knock off the puck, as he possesses good lower-body strength and is hard to move away from the boards.

The one aspect that may hurt his draft stock is that he’s spent most of his career playing in junior leagues. As it goes, junior players suffer from junior tendencies, and it’s unknown how Kaskimaki’s game will translate to an elevated level of play. He has appeared in four games with HIFK’s Liiga team, the biggest stage in Finland, and registered one goal and one assist, but the sample size is too small to judge at this point. What’s promising is that when he got his chance at the international level, his competitiveness was heightened when the talent of the competition was greater compared to what he saw in Finland.

Other THW Draft Profiles

Aleksanteri Kaskimaki – NHL Draft Projection

Kaskimaki started the season as a potential third-to-fourth-round draft pick, but his exposure with Finland’s international U-18 team helped boost his draft stock significantly. Paired with an excellent showing with the HIFK U20 team in U20 SM-sarja, where he received increased playing time as an 18-year-old and was a point-per-game player, it’s not out of the question that his name could be called as early as the second round. Several teams have multiple picks there and could be enticed enough by Kaskimaki’s skills to take a flyer on him.

Quotables

“Kaskimäki made an impact on both sides of the puck. He was light on his skates. He kept his feet moving and had multiple takeaways. On his first goal, he stole the puck away, displayed quality puck control and outwaited the goalie before finishing patiently. He generated another scoring chance in the first period as he tried to score a between-the-legs goal, but the Ilves goalie was sharp and made a good save. He has situational toughness, and defenders need to be alert because he’s so quick to put pressure and force turnovers. He is a strong, smooth skater with a superb glide, and he changes direction well. Kaskimäki also put his shot on display in this game. He had a tricky and quick release on his wrist shot, and he could change the shooting angle. He finished the game with two goals and had a great performance on HIFK’s first line. He is versatile, energetic and can play any style of the game.”- Finnish Junior Hockey

“Kaskimaki is a speedy forward who constantly looks to push the pace of play through the neutral zone. His trademark is speed and the ability to play with pace with the puck on his stick. Kaskimaki is able to build speed through his crossovers to create separation from opposing defenders, displays good vision with the puck on his stick. He can make plays at top speed, allowing him to be a strong puck carrier by weaving through coverage in the neutral zone to secure controlled zone entries.”- Brandon Holmes, FC Hockey (from ‘Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Player Report – HIFK U20 vs. JYP U20’, FC Hockey, 10/11/21)

“Kaskimaki is an offensive-minded winger/center, who can use his speed to create his own scoring chances, but also dish the puck to his teammate when needed. His high-end speed was on display during this viewing, and I was very impressed with his ability to stickhandle at full speed. He was able to beat defenders with his skating on several occasions, thus creating dangerous scoring chances for both him and his teammates. His impressive offensive numbers this season has definitely boosted his draft stock a lot, and in my opinion, he is starting to look like a clear top-100 prospect. If he can work on his overall game and is able to keep producing consistently, he might be worthy of a pick close to the top-50, mostly because of his elite speed, which is a great asset in today’s game.”- Rasmus Tornqvist, FC Hockey (from ‘Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Player Report – Czech Republic vs. Finland’, FC Hockey, 11/28/21)

Strengths

  • Deceptive playmaking
  • Great decision-making in tight spaces
  • Excellent speed

Under Construction – Improvements to Make

  • Gets caught puck-watching at times
  • Defensive awareness
  • Transition game

NHL Potential

Kaskimaki is still a few years away in terms of his development and will need to work on his defensive shortcomings before he can take the next big step. His speed and stickhandling abilities, paired with his willingness to go into the dirty areas, make him someone worth developing. If it works out, and he can play efficiently at both ends of the ice, Kaskimaki could be a decent bottom-six player who can chip in offensively and play on the penalty kill. If a team sees the potential to convert him to the wing, it would increase his chances due to fewer expectations defensively.

Risk- Reward Analysis

Risk- 4/5, Reward 3/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 6/10, Defense – 5/10

Awards/Achievements

As a member of the Finnish team in 2022, Kaskimaki captured the European Youth Olympic Festival gold medal, scoring two goals and three assists in five games. Finishing in the top-15 in scoring in the U20 SM-sarja league, Kaskimaki was named to the U20 SM-sarja Second All-Star Team in 2022. During the tournament, he was named player of the match in a 4-3 victory over Czechia.

Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Statistics

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