2019-20 Team: Tappara U20
Date of Birth: Jan. 11, 2002
Place of Birth: Tampere, Finland
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 21st (Among EU skaters)
- Future Considerations: 40th
- EliteProspects: 42nd
- The Hockey Writers (Bell): 26th
- The Hockey Writers (Fisher): 44th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 36th
- DobberProspects: 49th
Kasper Simontaival is an extremely intriguing prospect. On one hand, I think he could be one of the best offensive players in this draft class. On the other, he hasn’t really developed along as planned. That’s largely due to a large number of injuries that have slowed his development.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Even with those setbacks, his ceiling remains high. He proved that this season, playing mainly with Tappara U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga. He put up 25 goals, 32 assists and 57 points in 48 games, finishing fifth in the league in points (first among U18 players). He put up another seven points in three playoff games.
The Finnish forward also dressed for four Liiga games, not recording a point in minimal usage. Prior to the season, he was projected to spend most of his time with the big club, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he got the chance to be one of the top players in his league and stand out. While it wasn’t in the top league, he was a star.
The Tampere, Finland native may have had limited seasons, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting together a very promising toolkit. It starts with his offense. Simontaival is a high-end playmaker with a wicked wrist shot. His vision and hockey IQ might just be his best qualities.
Where Simontaival might surprise you is his play off the puck. This season, he was used on the penalty kill and defending leads, on top of his regular offensive shifts. He competes hard for the puck, never giving up and often battling along the boards. All of this is not exactly what you’d expect from a skilled forward.
With his progress to this point, Simontaival is trending in the right direction. I’d expect him to play full-time in the Liiga next season, possibly even the following season, before he comes over to North America. It might take a couple of years, but the winger might just end up being a high-value second-round pick.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Kasper Simontaival – NHL Draft Projection
Simontaival is one of those prospects that many have right on the bubble of the first round. I think he has the talent to be regarded as a first-rounder, but the “cheating” for offense is a concern. I think he’s too good for the league he’s been playing in, but I hope that he can adjust this aspect of his game. He’ll likely be a high second-round pick.
“Simontaival has high-end vision and hockey sense which allow him to read and make plays at an elite level. He has great speed, and his hands are among the best in his draft class which allows him to make plays at top speed. He’s a great playmaker but also owns an excellent wrist shot which is both accurate and powerful. He isn’t afraid to battle for pucks despite his small frame… the one negative part about his game is that he sometimes cheats for offense but hopefully that improves when he gets more pro experience.” – Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects
” He makes a ton of plays on the flank, hanging onto the puck to allow the play to develop and then getting open as a shot threat… He’s also an effective off-puck player and does a great job providing support and forcing turnovers before making a play out of that change of possession… I truly believe he’s got what it takes to be a second-line creator as a playmaker and a shooter. He can protect the puck in traffic or use the inside lane to cut past a defender without getting bumped. If there’s a concern with his game, it’s that he’s not a speedster for his size, which requires to use his skill to play at a slower pace sometimes. He’s not slow, though, and if he can add an extra step he could have real value as another player who is likely available into the second round.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from: ” Wheeler: Midseason ranking for the 2020 NHL Draft’s top 62 prospects” – The Athletic – Feb. 19, 2020).
“He may not be the biggest kid on the ice, but Simontaival plays with intensity and is always looking to ram his offensive prowess right down his opponents’ throats. He spends a lot of time hovering near his own line in search of passes to pick off and turn into instant odd-man rushes… Creating time and space is rarely a problem for someone with quick feet and advanced puck control like Simontaival, and his anticipation off the hop is quite high… From a skating standpoint, Simontaival maintains a slightly hunched posture but can drop a quick first step. Having a low center of gravity might make one think his stride is short or choppy, but Simontaival’s stride is long and clean, and he can outpace pressure even from an equal starting point. He’s nimble and agile in tight spaces, and Simontaival is consistent in his ability to fake or juke an opponent to lean the wrong way and beat them to a spot for a clean look.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
- Hockey Sense
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- “Cheating” for Offense
Just as Wheeler says, Simontaival has the potential to be a top-six winger at the NHL level. He just needs to improve his skating and overall strength to take his game to the next level. Expect him to take a couple of years before he gets a shot to make an impact in the NHL.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7.5/10, Defence – 6/10
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.