After being founded in 2015, South Florida Hockey Academy has featured players from various countries around the world. A number of Finnish players have played for different teams at the Academy.
One of them is Kasper Soini, a 2003 born defenseman from Helsinki. Soini played for South Florida Hockey Academy’s U16 team this past season which competed in the USPHL U16 league and at the Midget level. The team is coached by former NHL center Olli Jokinen and goalie Tomas Vokoun. Prior to moving to Florida, Soini played in Espoo for Blues U16 and Blues U16 Akatemia in the 2018-19 season.
At the start of the 2019-20 season, one North American team which I will keep nameless had asked me about Soini. I just recently started to take a closer look at the defenseman by watching some of his games from the past season in North America. I came away impressed with the game of the 5’11”, 146-pound defenseman.
The first thing that stuck out to me about Soini was his smooth skating. He moves quite effortlessly around the ice and uses his mobility to make an impact at both ends of the ice. He closes quickly on the opposing forwards and can limit their time and space really effectively. What’s more, he can also create offensively. He has good passing skills and controls the puck well in tight quarters. He has poise with the puck. Below is a wraparound goal against the Utica Jr. Comets 16U team.
I also reached out to Mark Bilotta, who is the New England Head Scout for Neutral Zone, an excellent scouting and news site that identifies, ranks and profiles prospects. Bilotta had many positives to say about Soini’s game.
“He has a good approach: he moved the puck well and his feet fed the rest of his game. Strong pivots, good edgework and very good balance. His stride is clean but he needs to add some strength to be a true force. Made smart decisions on the rush and attacked well from his own zone. Great puck receiver and strong, accurate passer as well. Very athletic player but needs to hit the weight room. Decent size given his age,” Bilotta said.
When I asked Bilotta how Soini projects for higher levels, he said the following: “He could do well in New England prep hockey right now but if he were to play in the NAHL or USHL there would be a big physical learning curve. Needs a year or two before he is maxing out his frame.”