A lot of people felt the Leafs could do something to bolster their organizational goalie depth, but it still seemed to catch them off guard when the team announced the signing of Finnish goalie turned college starter Kasimir Kaskisuo. For a lot of people, they had simply never heard of him before.
Still, some light has slowly been shed on him, and people are slowly warming up to him. Granted, he’s far from a blue-chip prospect, but he’s put his name right alongside the likes of Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau in the minds of many, so much so that he’s our top-ranked goalie (albeit by a slim margin) in this summer’s rankings.
|Jeff||Ryan H.||Shawn||Ryan F.||Adam||Dom||Jess||Katy||Readers|
This is Kaskisuo’s first pre-season in the Leafs organization.
|G||Vantaa, FIN||6’3||200||Left||U. Minnesota-Deluth||UFA (2016)|
Obviously, Kaskisuo had a pretty good career with UMD and was able to earn himself a contract with the Leafs as a result. His numbers aren’t as good as say Alex Lyon, another highly-touted college free agent goalie (that signed with the Flyers this spring and who had a .936 last year), but still, not too shabby.
The Eye Test
Here’s what what we wrote about Kaskisuo when he was first signed by the Leafs:
Like so many modern young goaltenders, Kaskisuo is praised for his size
and athleticism. With a 6’3, 200lb frame, he has a lot of body that he’s
able to place in front of the puck and displays significant athletic
ability and flexibility. Many consider Kaskisuo to be a “late bloomer”
of sorts though it’s more likely that spending his draft years in
European Development leagues and Junior-A was a bigger hindrance to an
NHL team not picking up sooner.
And here’s Nation Network, goalie guru superstar Cat Silverman on Kaskisuo:
Kasimir Kaskisuo isn’t particularly tall; he
stands at just 6 foot 2, putting him right around painfully average
height-wise. That being said, his play is almost more structured as a
result. He doesn’t look like he’s relying on size or reach to keep him
in the game with poor positioning. He plays out a little farther than I
tend to prefer, personally, but that’s not altogether unsurprising for
an NCAA grad with average-to-small size; if his depth seems to burn him
too much at the AHL level, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be able to pull
in enough under Briere to clean that up. He doesn’t seem to panic much,
even when he lets in a ‘soft’ goal, although he’s no more immune to
those than any other goaltending prospect. Overall, he’s got a clean
game to start with; it just needs a little polishing.
I’ve also talked to other people who know Kaskisuo well, and they seem to be fans of his athleticism and believe he has legitimate NHL upside, though consensus seems to be he likely projects as a backup.
As Seen on TV
Kinda goes without saying, but damn, that save is incredible.
Cat Silverman once more:
Coming out of the NCAA, Kaskisuo is a former
NAHL goaltender who met with immense success overseas, in the NAHL, and
while playing for Minnesota-Duluth. Personally, I find that particular
development path to be fantastic for goaltenders; the NAHL is a great
place for goaltenders to develop. In speaking with both Connor Hellebuyk
(who played NAHL before going to the NCAA) and Anthony Stolarz (who
played NAHL before heading to the London Knights), I became a big fan of
what that league does for goaltenders in terms of shots faced and
playing behind … well, less-structured defensive systems. Add in his
calm, poised performance for Minn-Duluth over the last few years, and
it’s hard to consider this a bad pickup. The only caveat I have with
Kaskisuo comes in terms of tempered expectations; the jump from NCAA to
the NHL is considerable for goaltenders. Fans who expect him to be
NHL-ready immediately are setting him up to fail. Give him a year with
Briere, and then evaluate from there – but he’s got a lot of maturity
about his game, so projecting him as a good NHL backup or tandem in the
future doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch if things go right.
If the Leafs do what we think they will and sign an established NHL backup for Frederik Andersen, Kaskisuo will fit somewhere in a three-man rotation with Antoine Bibeau and Garret Sparks with the Marlies and Solar Bears.
He’ll be in tough to earn playing time given his competition, but so will Sparks and Bibeau. It’s tough to say who projects in what role, but I imagine all will get time with the Marlies, and some will see time with the Solar Bears too. Given the necessity of getting all three of those guys playing time, and given how talented all of them are, it seems unlikely any of them will be a runaway leader in playing time.
So, Kaskisuo’s future next season is somewhat uncertain, with him possibly being a prominent player for the Marlies next year, while also possibly being a complete non-factor for them. In any event, given his age and given the Leafs liked him enough to sign him, you’d have to think he’ll make things interesting.
You probably saw my ranking of Kaskisuo at the top of this article and thought it was way too high. To be honest, I sort of regretted that ranking as soon as I made it.
At the time, the information I had gathered was that some felt he had legitimate starting goalie upside, and for me, even though he’s probably unlikely to reach it, that outweighs the collection of potential third- and fourth-liners that the Leafs have to fill out their depth prospects. In other words, upside was most important to me in my rankings.
However, the more I’ve talked to people, the more it seems like Kaskisuo pegs in much better as a backup. So yeah, not saying I don’t agree with my ranking of him anymore, but I kind of don’t.
Either way, though, being the Leafs 19th-ranked prospect seems pretty fair for a potential backup goalie in the NHL. My high ranking of him might’ve offset the non-ranking of him by others, and maybe his appropriate ranking lies exactly where he sits. Only time will tell.
And if he does end up being really good, I have all of the bragging rights.