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Future NHL stars are developing in the Red Wings’ prospect pipeline. Follow along as highlights the organization’s rising young talent in our monthly series, ‘Waiting in the Wings,’ presented by Carhartt.

Rather than dwell on a slow start to his first full season in North America, Marco Kasper trusted the process and believed through hard work, he would find his groove with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

“To be honest, I didn’t play like I wanted to,” Kasper recently told “I came here and had a hard time just figuring it out in the beginning. But I think by communicating with the coaches, just getting out there and trying to do my best every day I’ve been doing much better.”

After recording just one point in his first 10 games with the Griffins to open the 2023-24 season, Kasper collected 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in his final 61 games. The Detroit Red Wings forward prospect was even named the AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 22 after registering two goals and three assists in back-to-back games from Jan. 19-20.

“I worked through some adversity in the beginning of the season,” Kasper said. “I didn’t get too frustrated with myself.”

Originally selected eighth overall by the Red Wings in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Kasper made his NHL debut last season on April 2, 2023, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although Kasper sustained a season-ending lower-body injury in that game, the Austrian forward said getting a taste of NHL action was an eye-opening opportunity.

“The small ice is a big difference for the European players,” Kasper said. “Coming over here, there’s just way more battles.”

Adjusting his game to the North American style hasn’t been without some bumps for Kasper, who started his 2022-23 season with Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League. Fortunately, the 20-year-old Kasper said his more experienced Griffins teammates are helping him navigate the learning curve in the AHL.

“We have a lot of young guys, but we also have some veterans who have been in the league for a long time,” Kasper said. “For example, Michael Hutchinson has helped me a lot. He sits next to me in the locker room and just tells me to keep shooting and do the right things. He’s just one of the many guys who have helped us young guys a lot.”

Fellow Griffins forward Zach Aston-Reese praised Kasper for his work ethic and willingness to learn.

“His mindset and his attitude have just come such a long way to being like a full-time pro,” Aston-Reese said about Kasper on April 11. “And it’s translating.”

Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the Griffins finished second in the Central Division this season with a 37-23-8-4 (86 points) record, clinching a spot in the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs.

“He’s been really good,” Kasper said about Watson. “Obviously first year here for the coaching staff in Grand Rapids. They’ve all done a great job with us, getting all the players the things we need to play together as a team.”

Grand Rapids is set to face the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL-affiliate Rockford IceHogs in the Central Division Semifinals. Game 1 in the best-of-five series is set for Saturday night at BMO Center in Rockford, Ill. 

Kasper said he’s ready to contribute during Grand Rapids’ first trip to the postseason since 2018-19. 

“Tightening up everything, the competitiveness and winning all the battles are going to be really important in the playoffs,” Kasper said. “The small details have to be on point.”