The St. Louis Blues drafted forward Aleksanteri Kaskimäki with the 73rd overall pick of the 2022 NHL Draft on Friday. The pick initially belonged to the Detroit Red Wings but was traded to the Blues earlier in the day for goaltender Ville Husso.
Central Scouting Ranking (European): 25th / THW Ranking: 64th (Baracchini)
A left-shot forward, Kaskimäki should help the Blues continue to bolster their forward prospect pool as they look to remain competitive and a Stanley Cup contender for the next few years. The team may have found something in the Finnish forward. He can play in all areas and should find success on any line he plays on. His draft year helped his draft stock skyrocket, but he will need to continue to work hard as he transitions to the North American game.
Overview: What Kaskimäki Does Well
Kaskimäki is consistently creating space and utilizing his versatile wrist shot. His shot is a benefit to his strong skating ability and technique that he utilizes throughout the game. At 6-feet and nearly 200 pounds, he plays a strong, well-balanced game, using his frame to protect the puck well and move his way through traffic. He possesses a quick linear stride that allows him to catch defenders off-guard and flat-footed. His ability to create space as a playmaker works to his advantage when he is moving down the ice at full speed.
Earlier this season, Kaskimäki managed to score three goals at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, followed by an additional two goals and five points in four games at the EYOF Challenge for the Finland U18 squad, which he captained. During the regular season, he collected 19 goals, 40 points, and a plus-19 rating in 31 games for HIFK’s U20 squad. His performance earned him the opportunity to play in the Liiga, the top hockey league in Finland, where he added a goal and assist in four games. His performance throughout the year prepared him for a big role at the U18 Worlds, where he managed four points in six games as Team Finland captured the bronze medal.
Overview: What Kaskimäki Needs to Work On
Like many forward prospects across the world, Kaskimäki will need to work on and improve his hockey sense and the defensive side of his game before making a push for the NHL. His size should allow him to play at the center position at the professional level, but he might find additional success if he is pushed to the wing. Maturity and continued development of his puck handling should help his overall game as he continues to grow. His hands and feet will sometimes work at different speeds, especially as he attempts to avoid traffic or change his pace.
Scout and Draft Analyst Thoughts
(Kaskimäki is a…) Gifted offensive center with strong skating and stickhandling. Needs to improve his defensive game and on-puck habits but could be a top-six producer at the NHL level.
Hadi Kalakeche – DobberProspects.com
Kaskimaki is a speedy forward who constantly looks to push the pace of play through the neutral zone. His trademark is speed and the ability to play with pace with the puck on his stick. Kaskimaki is able to build speed through his crossovers to create separation from opposing defenders, displays good vision with the puck on his stick. He can make plays at top speed, allowing him to be a strong puck carrier by weaving through coverage in the neutral zone to secure controlled zone entries.
Brandon Holmes – FC Hockey (from ‘Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Player Report – HIFK U20 vs. JYP U20’, FC Hockey, 10/11/21)
Kaskimäki’s Overall Upside
Kaskimäki is still several years away from the NHL stage. His speed and stickhandling abilities, paired with his willingness to go into the dirty areas, make him a player worth developing. He could pay dividends for the Blues in all areas of the game moving forward. As scouting reports continue to develop and add more to his international reports, the 18-year-old is one for fans to keep their eye on over the next few years.
Kaskimäki’s timeline should line up well with a few other prospects in the organization’s system. As players like Jake Neighbours and Zachary Bolduc look to make an impact in the NHL sooner than later, Kaskimäki should be a nice addition and a complementary piece to a forward core that projects Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas to lead. Should Blues general manager Doug Armstrong hold on to these young pieces over the next few years, the club will have multiple well-rounded prospects for their coaching staff to place confidently in any situation.
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.
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