Canucks 2022 NHL Draft Target: Marco Kasper

Now that the Vancouver Canucks officially hold the 15th overall pick at the 2022 NHL Draft, we can really dive into who they could be targeting in the first round on July 7. They could entertain dealing someone like J.T. Miller or Brock Boeser for a top-10 selection, but for now, they only have one pick until the third round, so they better make this first-rounder count.

Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Before the clock starts ticking on the draft in July, the Canucks coverage team here at The Hockey Writers will be profiling potential targets at 15th overall. Next up is the 6-foot, 196-pound Austrian pivot Marco Kasper, who recently attended and impressed at the 2022 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York.

Marco Kasper’s Toolkit

Kasper played for Rögle BK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) during the 2021-22 season where he scored an impressive seven goals and 11 points in 46 games, the most by a U18 junior. He also helped his team win a Champions Hockey League championship by adding three goals and six points in the playoffs.

Only three other Austrians have ever been selected in the first round, Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and Marco Rossi. Like them, Kasper is blessed with elite skating talent and tremendous speed. He also has size and a mature well-rounded game that might be ready for the NHL sooner rather than later. His tenacity, grit and willingness to go to the dirty areas of the ice have impressed scouts, along with his ability to lead at such a young age, as he was captain of Team Austria at the abbreviated World Juniors in December.

Marco Kasper Team Austria
Marco Kasper, Team Austria (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Work ethic and the constant drive to get better are two attributes essential to NHL success, and Kasper has both in spades. In fact, his head coach Cam Abbott has to make sure he leaves the rink at the end of the day, which sounds an awful lot like two other Canucks youngsters in Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin. He is never satisfied with his game, which is admirable at only 18 years old.

In addition to all that, Kasper is a monster in front of the net. Whether it be tipping pucks, screening the goaltender or banging in rebounds, his office is definitely in and around the crease. As Chris Faber of Canucks Army pointed out in a recent article, seven of his 10 goals in the SHL were scored from there, which is pretty impressive when you consider the fact that he was battling against men, not 17 or 18-year-olds.

Kasper also made a name for himself in the fitness testing at the Scouting Combine on Saturday (June 4) where he finished tied for first in the Wingate and second in the VO2 max tests. He was a popular prospect at the event when it came to the interview portion as he talked to every team but the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes. So, clearly, the Canucks won’t be the only team interested when the draft gets going in July.

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With Kasper’s size, quick hands in close and tremendous hand-eye coordination, he could become a player like Tomas Holmstrom, who made his living in the crease for the Detroit Red Wings back in the 90s and 2000s. Needless to say, if he keeps developing that particular set of skills, he will find himself on a top-unit power play in the NHL at some point. Even if he doesn’t become a huge scorer at even strength, a powerplay specialist could always be in the cards for him. In the end, whichever team ends up selecting him will be getting a solid, mature two-way forward who can forecheck like a madman and be a menace in front of the net. Not to mention bring a relentless work ethic and a never-say-die attitude to the rink day-in and day-out. Now, which head coach wouldn’t want that type of player in their lineup?

What Kasper Still Needs To Work On

Kasper really isn’t an offensive threat when he travels away from his office at the front of the net. His shot isn’t what you could call lethal or strong either. As Ben Kerr says in his profile on Last Word on Hockey, “his release is decent, but the lack of power on his shot means that when he shoots from distance, goalies are able to make easy saves.” So for him to score, he needs to be close to the crease where he can use his hand-eye coordination to deftly tip the puck past the goalie or big body to overpower opposing defenders and bang in rebounds. His puckhandling also could use some improvement too. If he is able to add some more power to his shot and translate his skills around the crease to the rest of the ice, he could raise his ceiling from a third-liner to a top-six forward in the future.

Kasper’s Fit with the Canucks

As mentioned in previous draft targets pieces, the Canucks need help everywhere. Kasper, even though he played wing a lot of the time in Rogle, is a natural centerman, a position they are in desperate need of. While the NHL depth looks good down the middle right now with J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat, they don’t really have anyone pushing from the farm beyond those three. Looking at the depth chart and the top-10 prospects, the first pivot that comes up is Danila Klimovich, and he doesn’t necessarily project as a center in the NHL. After him, it’s Linus Karlsson (again not projected) and Dmitri Zlodeyev. Not exactly a strong pool to choose from.

According to Kerr and a few other scouts, Kasper is good at faceoffs, but seeing that he hasn’t been used as a center in a men’s league yet, that skill is still a bit of an unknown. That being said, center ice is still his natural position so he would definitely fill a need in the organization. Fortunately, Abbott hinted in a recent interview that he wants to try him down the middle as soon as next season to see if his two-way awareness comes through when given more defensive responsibilities. So, if the Canucks do in fact select him, that will be an interesting story to follow in future prospect reports.

Bottom line is, that Kasper would fit in very well and instantly become a top-three prospect in the Canucks’ pipeline. With his mature defensive game, Canucks fans might even get to see him at Rogers Arena within the next two seasons if all goes according to plan.

Other Quotes

“My hard work and work ethic is a big part of my game but also my hockey sense…I’m not only gritty and hard on the forecheck but I can also make good plays and score goals. I like to think about myself as a player that plays hard but also plays with skill.” – Marco Kasper in an interview on the Canucks Conversation podcast

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“Marco is an exceptional young man…He really enjoys working and just loves to put the time in, as Nils Höglander does, which is something I’ve never seen at this level before in terms of teenagers with self-motivation that way. But Marco does it in a very thoughtful way as well. He’s super mature for his age, not just his size for his age, but being mature in his process of getting better.” – Rögle BK head coach Cam Abbott

“[Kasper] uses his size well…employing a long reach to break up passes and create interceptions as well as anchoring himself in front of the net to take away the goalie’s vision and pick up deflections. There’s a grit to his game as well, and he’s not afraid to lay out a big check-in open ice or try and get under his opponent’s skin, forcing them to make rushed decisions that can sometimes lead to a turnover.” – Dayton Reimer, The Hockey Writers

Other Canucks Draft Targets

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