Kasimir Kaskisuo Joins Toronto Maple Leafs Depth Chart
When InGoal Magazine took a look at every organization’s goaltending depth in the NHL earlier this month, the team with maybe the most glaringly barren goaltending cupboard was the Toronto Maple Leafs – so they’ve gone out and done something about it, inking prospect Kasimir Kaskisuo to an entry-level deal following his second season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
A native of Espoo, Finland, Kaskisuo came to North America for the first time back in the 2013-14 season, when he left the Jokerit junior hockey system to play for the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness.
While there, he was one of the best goaltenders in the league for his 32 games of play, posting nine shutouts and a .944 save percentage in all situations. While Kaskisuo was in net for the Wilderness, the team went 21-6-5 and saw nine shutouts, even with the Finnish netminder facing a fairly normal workload over the course of each game; the Wilderness averaged 26.9 shots against per game during contests with Kaskisuo in net, and he still put up the numbers he did.
Once heading to the NCAA, the netminder maintained his success levels, with barely any adjustment period needed before hitting the ground running again. In his freshman season, Kaskisuo posted an 18-14-3 record and a .917 save percentage in all situations, then this year he improved that to a .923 save percentage and added five shutouts.
For Toronto, this is an extremely smart pickup.
Steve Briere, Toronto’s goaltending coach, has plenty of experience working with NAHL goaltenders after years working with the Topeka Roadrunners (including time coaching 2015 draft selection, and 46th overall ranked prospect Matej Tomek). The team is also desperately in need of goaltenders to serve as a stopgap between whomever they draft this summer (the team will almost certainly need to draft in net when they get to Buffalo in June) and whomever stands in net for them at the NHL level. The assumption is that Garret Sparks will get his shot at the backup gig next year, but even Jonathan Bernier is an uncertainty to be retained rather than dealt in the off-season.
That leaves Toronto with just two guarantees, Sparks and AHL prospect Antoine Bibeau; adding Kaskisuo, who has clearly proven that he’s got consistency to his game and experience in North America, is a great add for the Atlantic Division club.
The biggest question, at this point, is whether the Leafs are done adding in net outside of the draft.
Kaskisuo looks like he’ll be a great add, but NCAA goaltenders generally take time to develop at the pro level. Couple that with some not-wonderful development out of Bibeau this season, and the Leafs have gotten better with their newest addition – but they still don’t boast the depth they really need. Injuries this year showed exactly how thin their depth chart was, and adding just one player – especially with Sparks potentially seeing NHL ice next year – doesn’t do much to fix that.
For now, though, the Leafs have made a statement by addressing one of their biggest off-season needs, and they’ve done it with a smart selection. After years of watching the team flounder, it’s hard to do anything but applaud them for that.