Kasper is only the fourth Austrian first-round draft. Only Thomas Vanek, who was picked #5 by the Buffalo Sabers in 2003, was drafted higher. Marco Rossi 2020 (No. 9 Minnesota Wild) and Michael Grabner 2006 (No. 14 Vancouver Canucks) came a little later.
Kasper has ended up at a traditional club run by a legend. Steve Yzerman, once the Red Wings superstar, has been general manager in Detroit since April 2019 and has been rebuilding the team ever since. With eleven Stanley Cup victories, the Red Wings are the third most successful club in the NHL after the Montreal Canadiens (24) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (13), but have consistently missed the playoffs since 2016. The new head coach Derek Lalonde, who succeeded Jeff Blashill a few days ago, is to lead the team around Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi or the young stars Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond back into the playoffs.
Kasper could become the second Austrian player with the Red Wings. Vanek played for Detroit in 2015-16 and his final season in 2018-19. However, it is quite possible that the Carinthian will continue to storm for the Swedish top club Rögle in the coming year. At the club from Ängelholm and in the Austrian national team, he impressed with strong performances in the past season and played his way up the draft hierarchy. The Red Wings already “parked” at Rögle in 2020/21, and last season the German defender was voted the best rookie in the NHL.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be drafted by a cool team like the Red Wings. It feels unreal and takes a few more days to realize that,” said Kasper, who was robed in red on stage in front of his parents. The center and wing, who trained at KAC until 2020, spoke of a dream that came true. “But it’s also just a step in my career. I will continue to work hard on myself.”