Our SB Nation NHL Mock Draft is nearly halfway through, which means we’re due to select on behalf of the New York Islanders at 13th overall. You may have debated our options in the morning thread. But for the purposes of the mock draft, we had to register our pick before all that.
We choose Marco Kasper, a left-shooting 6’1” center playing in the Swedish league.
Kasper doesn’t have the gaudy statistics that some draft classmates do, but that’s mostly because he’s doing the proverbial “playing with men” in the SHL. Rather than go the Canadian junior route, he’s with Rögle in Sweden, where he’s excelled with their junior squads and acquitted himself well in the top pro league. That likely bodes well for his path to developing into a rounded NHL player.
But first, I’ll get to the completely irrelevant but fun reasons I mock drafted him: He’s Austrian, and the Isles are historically light on Austrians. (As is the whole NHL, but whatever.) He’s from Innsbruck, which is a beauuuutiful town I’ve been to a couple of times.
Now to the mildly relevant reasons: He’s a prospect who is seen as a sure first-rounder, likely middle of the round, but a few people rate him even higher. The kind of player some teams will be high on and draft him if he’s available at their spot. And he’s a center, though playing wing in the pros. Natural centers who can play wing are versatile and valuable, you can’t have enough. Maybe he becomes a Brock Nelson or an Anthony Beauvillier (hopefully the good version), maybe he becomes something completely different.
Habs Eyes on the Prize always has a really nice overview of top draft prospects, and their write-up of Kasper lives up to that:
His hockey IQ shows up in everything he does on the ice. He reads the game well and looks to distribute the puck to players who are open, and with speed. He doesn’t really look for the pass between defenders or into the crowd, he looks to play a simple, effective game, relying on his own skills to do so. His talent is found in other elements of his play, with his skating, vision, and strength over the puck giving him the opportunity to drive the play.
For what it’s worth, Corey Pronman of the Athletic called Kasper a “projected bubble top and middle of the lineup” player and selected Sam Bennett as an NHL comparable.
At Sportsnet, their summary says: “Hard not to like a guy who plays such a well-rounded game, but is also willing to do whatever it takes to continue improving” and praised him elevating his play in postseason and tournaments. (He sounds like a Barry Trotz kind of pla- welp, never mind that.)
That’s the last pick for today in the mock draft. It continues tomorrow with Winnipeg selecting at #14. Follow along at the SB Nation NHL Mock Draft hub.