Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Kasper Simontaival.
Finnish winger Kasper Simontaival dominated the Finnish Under-20 league this past season. Playing in the Junior-A SM Liiga in the Tappara system he put up 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 points in 48 games. He also scored one goal and six assists for seven points in three playoff games before the season was shut down. Simontaival was named to the league All-Star Team. He also played games in Finland’s men’s leagues. Simontaival got in four SM-Liiga games, but with limited ice time. He also spent time with KooVee in the Mestis, picking up one goal and three assists for four points in six games.
Last season, Simontaival scored nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 27 games in the J20 league. He also put up two assists in five SM-Liiga games. Simontaival went out on loan to LeKi in the Mestis, putting up five goals and 14 points in 21 games. Simontaival also represented his country at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, scoring seven points in four games. He also put up four points in four games at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. In 24 games with Finnish National Under-18 Team, he scored eight goals and 27 points.
Kasper Simontaival Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born January 11th, 2002 — Tampere, Finland
Height 5’9″ — Weight 177 lbs [175 cm/80 kg]
Simontaival is an undersized player. His skating is good but there are still areas he can improve. He gets off the line well with a quick first step and good acceleration. However, his top-end speed is merely good, but not great. A bit of a longer stride could help him to be even faster. He also has good agility and edgework. Simontaival can avoid defenders both with and without the puck. He can create open space with his quick feet. Simontaival is undersized but is surprisingly strong on the puck. He can fight through checks and get to the front of the net. He is also more than capable of winning his battles along the boards.
Simontaival has outstanding hands. He is dangerous on the rush as he can make moves on defenders while at top speed. He can also stickhandle in tight spaces, creating passing and shooting lanes when coming off the boards in the cycle game. Simontaival can control the puck down low. He has excellent vision and playmaking skills. Simontaival keeps his head up when carrying the puck and sees the ice extremely well. He is able to anticipate where his teammates are going and makes smart passes with the puck. He can get the puck through tight areas and make saucer passes to teammates. Simontaival is able to quarterback the play from the half-boards on the power play.
Simontaival can also be as dangerous as a goal scorer. He has a strong and accurate wrist shot with a very good release. His quick hands can toe-drag the puck and change the angle before he lets it go. Simontaival’s soft hands also help him finish in tight to the net. He is not afraid to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice. Simontaival is also not afraid to battle for loose pucks on the boards. Despite his lack of size, his low centre of gravity helps him to win those battles. This should continue to improve as he matures and gets older.
Simontaival’s defensive game needs some work. There are times where he backchecks hard and supports the defence, applying effective backpressure against the transition game. He can also cut down passing lanes and use his high-end hockey IQ to read the play and create turnovers. There are also times where he seems to puck watch away from the play, losing his man. Always looking to push the offence, he can also leave the zone early, looking for a long breakaway pass. As he continues to move up to higher levels of hockey, he will need to get rid of these bad habits and be more consistent in his own end.
Projection and Comparison
Simontaival has the offensive skills to be a top-six forward if he develops properly. He is undersized but has the skill, speed, and hockey IQ to get around this. He will need to add more muscle to his frame without losing that speed and skill. Simontaival will also need to work harder in his own end or will drive professional coaches crazy. He is a bit of a boom or bust prospect, as he is unlikely to be able to be a bottom line player. If his offence does not translate to the pros, he may not have a second option to carve out a career at the NHL level. Simontaival’s game is reminiscent of Kailer Yamamoto but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Kasper Simontaival that are available on youtube and twitter.
Penalty Shot at The 5-Nations ?? v ??.. Kasper Simontaival on Andri Henauer for the hatty!?!? pic.twitter.com/lvgclohClz
— NHL Draft Analysis (@nhl_nz) November 10, 2019
Kasper Simontaival scored two goals in the first period against Czech Republic at the U18 Five Nations in Sochi. Here's the first one which is a great individual effort from the #2020NHLDraft prospect. #Tappara pic.twitter.com/38jZ5J79FX
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) February 5, 2019
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) February 21, 2020
— Finnish Jr Hockey (@FINjrhockey) February 26, 2017
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) April 14, 2020
U18 5-Nations – Finland v Czech Republic.. a look at the game winning goal off the stick of Kasper Simontaival in the shootout’s 6th Round pic.twitter.com/e9pHBMTVtC
— NHL Draft Analysis (@nhl_nz) November 8, 2019
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Kasper Simontaival Main Photo:
Kasper Simontaival Joins the Show!
— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) March 25, 2020