2021-22 Team: Rögle (SHL)
Date of Birth: April 8, 2004
Place of Birth: Innsbruck, Austria
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 183 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings: 7th (Among EU Skaters)
- Bob McKenzie’s Mid-Season Rankings: 17th
- Andrew Forbes’ January Rankings: 18th
- FC Hockey: 19th
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 19th
- Draft Prospects Hockey Winter Rankings: 22nd
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 24th
- Smaht Scouting Winter Rankings: 25th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: 27th
It’s hard not to look at Marco Kasper and think of fellow Austrian Marco Rossi, who was picked ninth overall back in 2020 by the Minnesota Wild. The pair grew up just under two hours away from each other and quickly became the face of Austrian hockey as they moved up the ranks. However, that’s about where the similarities end. At 17, Rossi moved to North America to join the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Ottawa 67’s, where he led the league in scoring in his second season with the team. Although he’s on the smaller side, he’s a high-offence player who will certainly end up on the Wild’s top line someday.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Not Kasper, though. The first and most obvious difference is the size. Whereas Rossi stands just 5-foot-9, Kasper towers over him at 6-foot-1. He uses his size well, too, 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.
Then there’s Kasper’s skating. While Rossi was also hailed for his speed and acceleration, scouts have been gushing over Kasper’s skill on his skates for over a year. Last season, he made his debut in the Swedish Hockey League with Rögle BK at just 16 years old, and although he only managed to put up one assist, he didn’t look out of place amongst some of the best hockey players in the world thanks to his skating prowess. This season, he’s been a mainstay in the league, playing 40 games and scoring six goals and nine points, which places him second among all U18 players, third among U19 players, and eighth among U20 players. He was also a huge part of Rögle’s Champions League team, scoring six points in 12 games.
While Kasper doesn’t have the same offensive upside as his fellow Austrian — Rossi led the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) with 120 points in 56 games — he still plays a smart, heads-up game that can help drive plays and create chances, especially while in tight along the boards in the offensive zone. He uses his size to protect and control the puck while he looks for a passing lane, or can quickly pivot to shake off an opponent with some excellent edge work. He’s an in-close type of player, relying on quickness and strength to catch rebounds or feed passes to teammates in the slot.
Scouts have been watching closely to see if Kasper’s offensive game would take a step forward this season, and although he’s been somewhat inconsistent, he currently has three points in the last five games. His ice time has also increased and he saw a 17-minute night against the Växjö Lakers HC and over 16 minutes against Luleå HF, the second-best team in the SHL behind Rögle. On the international circuit, Kasper even outscored Rossi, with Kasper putting away two goals and four points in three games, compared to Rossi’s three points in five contests. If he can keep it up, he’ll be one of the hottest risers in the first round of the 2022 Draft.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Marco Kasper – NHL Draft Projection
Since the draft’s inception, only 14 Austrians have been selected, with only three going in the first round. Kasper will almost certainly become the fourth, joining Rossi, Thomas Vanek, and Michael Grabner. Although he is projected to go lower than his fellow countrymen, likely in the 20-30 range, there’s a chance that he jumps up. He has the size that pro scouts love and thanks to his time in the SHL, is likely more ready for the pressures of the NHL than many of his contemporaries. If all the chips fall into place, he could hear his name called around the 15th pick.
“He’s an advanced 200-foot centre who has fit in playing a regular shift in the SHL and has played well during Rögle’s Champions Hockey League segments. I don’t see game-breaking skill or finishing, per se, but he’s a strong skater who plays with pro pace, plays on the interior, and makes plays all over the ice. He projects as a contributing NHL player.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from ‘Wheeler: Top 64 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft at midseason’, The Athletic, Feb 14, 2022)
“Kasper is one of my favourite prospects in this class. He has everything that you want in a power forward. The grit, the decision making and the speed. Kasper has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL and his grit will intrigue plenty of teams. If an NHL team is looking to obtain a well-rounded power forward who can be annoying in high danger situations with his reach, Kasper is the guy.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“Does a great job making himself available by finding open ice. Puck seems to find him at the front of the net.” – Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
- Skating & Speed
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Shot power
Kasper is already a very well-round player and could be in the NHL sooner rather than later. He doesn’t have the highest offensive upside, but that’s not what he’ll be brought in to do; he’s an aggravating two-way power forward who can use his strength and speed to create scoring chances or shut down opponents. With top-nine potential, he’ll be a valuable addition to a team looking to bolster their prospect pool with a bit of grit and secondary scoring options. If he can work on rounding out his offensive game, he could very well be a diamond in the rough.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6/10, Defence – 7/10
Kasper has twice appeared on the Austrian U20 World Junior team, first as a 16-year-old in 2021. Then, as a 17-year-old, he was named team captain, the youngest to wear the “C” at the 2022 tournament. With Rögle, he won a silver medal in 2021 after losing to Växjö in the Final and helped his team win the Champions League tournament in 2022.
Marco Kasper Statistics
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.