Detroit Red Wings Reportedly sign Finnish Defenseman Oliwer Kaski

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Oliwer Kaski, 23, expected to sign with the Detroit Red Wings according to a Finnish news outlet. If this proves to be true, this will be Yzerman’s first signing as newly appointed GM.

On May 6th, 2019, it was reported by Ilta-Sanomat, (Finnish Newspaper) the Detroit Red Wings will be signing Finnish defenseman standout, Oliwer Kaski. After leaving Western Michigan University (NCAA) in the 15-16 season, Kaski scored 4 goals, 8 assists, for a total of 12 points in 31 games played, Kaski decided to leave to head back home to Finland to turn pro.

Playing for HIFK (SM-Liiga) of the Finish Elite League, Finland’s top league, Kaski struggled to gain any sort of momentum, finishing with only 2 goals, 4 assists, for a total of 6 points, in 36 games played during the 16-17 season. Nothing too impressive there,

after having minimal success Kaski showed steady progress the next season, posting better numbers. Kaski, in turn, finished with 9 goals, 7 assists, good for 16 points, in 49 games. With statistics like that, one would expect a steady increase for the 18-19 season, right? Well, that would be a massive understatement.

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Playing for a different team in the 18-19 season, Kaski made a name for himself, which opened the eyes of NHL teams. Kaski blew open the door finishing with 19 goals, 32 assists, for a total of 51 points, in only 59 games played, a 35-point increase from just the year before. Although not officially confirmed as of yet, the rumor appears to be that Yzerman was able to sign Kaski. Scoring 19 goals during the regular season for Lahti Pelicans in Finland’s top league, Kaski was awarded the Juha Rantasila Trophy for most goals by a defenseman.

He also finished with the most points as well. Playing for the University of Western Michigan for one season could have been a leading factor for Kaski to be familiar with the area in which he reportedly has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Due to being 23, Kaski can only sign a 1 year, 2-way contract. This gives Yzerman the flexibility of sending Kaski down if he isn’t ready to handle playing against some of the best players in the world. Nonetheless, let’s delve into the pros and cons of Oliwer Kaski, the first signing of the Steve Yzerman era.


The first trait you will notice about Kaski, is his effortless skating ability. If you watch the way Jack  Eichel skates around the ice at top speed, while it seems as if he is only gliding, Kaski skates the same way. Kaski has excellent vision throughout the ice, which enables him to find open ice for a one-timer, which showcases his accurate shooting ability. As a right-handed defenseman, he was the QB for the Pelican’s power-play, something the Wings’ are in dire need of. As an offensive-defenseman, Kaski regularly enjoys joining the rush when necessary. In high-intensity situations, Kaski remains calm, especially when the puck is on his stick. He makes accurate passes as he skates through the opposition’s defense, then makes backdoor passes which his teammates capitalize on.


As mentioned above, Kaski is an offensive-defenseman. With these type of players’ often-times means, they prioritize offense over being defensively sound. While I don’t believe Kaski has the worst defensive game, it definitely will need work if he wants to make the jump to the NHL. Kaski enjoys going the rush to create more offensive chances for his team; this has led to him not always being able to get back in the play, exposing his defensive flaws. Another key to Kaski’s game is playing without the puck.

Kaski is going to have to play better defensively in his own zone when the opposition is cycling the puck down low. I do think over time he will be able to fix this part of his game, as his speed is a tremendous asset that he surely knows how to use. Standing at 6’3, 187lbs, Kaski is going to have to use his body more to slow down the opposition and clear out the front of the net. If he can fine-tune his defensive game, I like what the future holds for Oliwer Kaski.


Overall, I like this signing by Steve Yzerman. This is one of those low-risk, high-reward situations that can aid in bolstering the prospect pool for the Wings’. I like that this will add much-needed competition come training camp, as Cholowski, as well as newly acquired Bowey, aren’t guaranteed a spot, as well as veteran’s Daley, and Ericsson. Kaski has a legitimate chance to make the Detroit Red Wings out of training camp.

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With his skating and shooting ability, he creates offense in a flash. If Kaski wants to make the transition directly to the Detroit Red Wings, Kaski will have to prove he can be counted on be responsible in his own zone. There is no doubt about this offensive talent, but defense comes first. Since his offense is what is attracting multiple NHL teams, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, the main question concerning Kaski is, can his offensive prowess translate to the NHL? Time will tell.