Red Wings Prospects Report: Kasper & Wallinder Shining Early

The prospect pool for the Detroit Red Wings has reached new depths with the addition of Steve Yzerman as general manager (GM) back in April 2019. In particular, he has found fantastic talent playing in European leagues, primarily the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

Two prospects playing in the SHL this year that are having some early season success are 2022 first-round pick Marco Kasper and 2020 second-round pick William Wallinder. Both Red Wings prospects are playing for Rogle BK. Their team may be struggling in the standings with only two wins in the first nine games, but Kasper and Wallinder are not. Please note that all stats referenced are from InStat unless otherwise stated.

SHL Deployment

Although the development of a prospect is not an exact science, there are a couple of things that clubs can do to ensure that the players under their care get the best shot at making the NHL. One is playing in a league that matches where they are at skill and competition-wise, and the other is making sure that the player is deployed as much as possible in the best situations.

Related: Red Wings 3 Untouchable Prospects for 2022-23

As of Oct. 20’s SHL game, Wallinder was skating on Rogle BK’s first defensive pairing while Kasper found himself on the third line. Over the first nine games of the season (this was game No. 10) Wallinder averaged 21:06 time on ice (TOI). In the last three games he played 19:51, 22:17, 24:12. Every game except for one he has played at least 19:51.

Kasper hasn’t seen the same time on ice, but has been an effective center when he’s carving up the frozen sheet. He’s averaged 15:19 TOI while also winning 49% of his faceoffs. Over his last three games, he’s had 14:59, 17:02, and 17:10 TOI to go along with 50%, 63%, and 64% in the faceoff dot. Just a reminder that Kasper doesn’t turn 19 until April 2023 and already has a full SHL season under his belt.

Statistical Success

It’s one thing to have the time and deployment in the right situations to develop, making the most of those opportunities is another test that a prospect must pass. Wallinder has six points so far to Kasper’s five. Yes, it’s still early, but the pedigree of these prospects plus the quality of competition in this league is enough reason to have optimism.

William Wallinder Rogle BK
William Wallinder, Rogle BK (Photo by Martin Rose,/Getty Images)

One of the most encouraging things is Wallinder’s power-play time. So far this season he is averaging 2:09 of power-play TOI. He’s earned the trust of the coaching staff and is being rewarded with this ice time. He only has two power-play points, but there are plenty more games for him to get that total up. Kasper has received powerplay time as well, but only to the tune of 1:16 on average.

Kasper & Wallinder Pass the Eye Test

Wallinder is determined to make the jump to North America next year, and his play so far is showing that his money is where his mouth is. He plays a really simple pass-first game. He rarely misses a pass, especially on the powerplay.

As you can see, Wallinder isn’t trying to be fancy here. He collects the puck, moves a bit with it, then distributes. He has his head up the whole time, looking for the best option. If he can maintain this effectiveness while on Rogle’s powerplay, he should be gathering even more than his six points in 10 games thus far.

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Kasper spends a lot of time around the net in games. He can be seen in practice working on tipping shots and moving around the net (seen below).

You can see how fluid his skating is around the net while he performs this drill. He’ll need to maintain that strength and balance in order to translate his game to the NHL level.

Kasper has mentioned the importance of playing a good defensive game. Rogle BK is committed to coaching the play of their team to limit the number of penalties taken. To date, they have only taken 26 penalties, the fewest in the SHL.

Worst of The Red Wings’ Rebuild Over?

This season will be a very important barometer in determining how much further away this team is from making the playoffs and having success in the postseason. Yzerman set his team up for as much success as possible by signing a lot of players this past offseason. Five of those players have played every game while Ville Husso has started two of the three games the Red Wings have played so far.

With the likes of Edvinsson, Berggren, Cossa and company playing for the American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, there is no rush to get Kasper and Wallinder into the NHL. Yzerman himself didn’t give an explicit timeline, but did say that it could be next year or the year after. He also specifically mentioned Kasper being a fit in the top six.

Both No. 24 (Kasper) and No. 54 (Wallinder) are a part of this sequence for the overtime-winning goal in this Oct. 20 game against Frolunda. The tenacity on display here by Kasper is a hallmark of his game, and reminds me of the Red Wings’ captain Dylan Larkin’s defensive effort on preventing an empty net goal in the Red Wings’ last game against the Los Angeles Kings.

For now, we can enjoy these SHL highlights of Kasper and Wallinder willing goals into existence and look forward to a future day when they wear the Red Wings threads. The worst of the rebuild is over.

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