With the 71st overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Red Wings select defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo out of the USHL. This pick was acquired in the trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers.
Here’s what we know:
He’s a strong, physically developed 190 pound stay-at-home defenseman with an impressive understanding of defensive positioning. He is a fairly good skater for his size and has noticeable on-ice strength that allows him to be a physical force in his own end. He has smooth strides and good balance, allowing him to fend o forecheckers with his size and move the puck up to a teammate. He’s an excellent backwards skater and has large strides that allow him to keep pace with forwards cutting across the blue line with good lateral quickness.
Kotkansalo had 12 points in 43 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede, he’s committed to Boston University next year. Kotkansalo is often praised for his strength and wingspan. He appears to be apt with gap control, and his lateral agility.
He won a gold medal with Team Finland at the U18 WJC in 2015-2016.