Phase one of the “Yzerplan” is underway.
Per a report from a Finnish news outlet, The Red Wings are expected to sign free-agent defensemen Oliwer Kaski. The signing most likely won’t be made official until after the upcoming 2019 IIHF world championships in Slovakia, where Kaski will be representing team Finland. The contract is reportedly a one-year, two-way deal, which is all he was eligible for due to his age.
So what are the Red Wings/Grand Rapids Griffins getting in Kaski?
Well, as a 23 year-old blue-liner Kaski is coming a very impressive season in Finland’s top pro-league. He was named league MVP after registering 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 59 games. Also good enough to be the 6th leading scorer of the entire league. He led all defensemen in goals, points, and points per game (at least ten games played). Compared to the next closest defensemen in the league, he had eight more goals and nine more points. A truly dominate season from the back-end.
What standout most about Kaski is the significant improvement he made from the previous year. In the 2017-18 season he only had 16 points (in ten fewer games). That is a massive difference. Going back further, he played two years for Western Michigan University, although he only played one game his sophomore season. The connection there being that head coach Jeff Blashill is the former coach of the Broncos. Blashill was no longer a member of their staff when Kaski was there, but I’m sure they have interacted before.
With how the Red Wings are currently constructed, it might be difficult for Kaski to find NHL time. Weather he is ready for it or not, there is still a very cluttered depth chart in Detroit. As Steve Yzerman settles in to his new job, it will be interesting to see if he moves on from some of the veteran defensemen on the NHL roster.