Leafs’ prospects Kaskisuo and Scott find camaraderie in competition

Young backstops use 2017 Rookie Tournament to improve each other's game

If being a goaltender is the loneliest position in the game, Toronto Maple Leafs prospects Kasimir Kaskisuo and Ian Scott have taken every opportunity to connect over the craft at this year’s Rookie Tournament.

For the rookie roommates, the immediate target is a spot behind Garrett Sparks on the Toronto Marlies, and these two are happy to share their knowledge and experience between the pipes with each other.

“I try to help him feel comfortable here,” said Kaskisuo, of Scott following Saturday afternoon practice at Ricoh Coliseum. “I know what it’s like to come in for a first year and of course he’s six years younger than I am.”

This is the almost 24-year-old’s second rookie tournament, and he sees the same thing in him as he saw in himself a year ago when he worked with Marlies’ goalie coach Piero Greco.

“Posture and being composed, especially in pro hockey (is important), if you over commit or move too much it can come back and haunt you.”

The goaltender from Vantaa, Finland is ready to make steps quickly to earn consistent playing time for the Marlies.

Kaskisuo played seven games for the AHL club in 2016-17, posting a 1.84 goals against average and a 5-1 record, and was subsequently called up from the ECHL for 10 playoff games after Sparks went down with a lower body injury.

Though the goalie is chomping at the bit to earn a consistent spot at a higher level, his comrade Scott is grateful to soak in as much information as possible from his elder.

“He’s been through it all in the ECHL, and then getting a shot with the AHL and making that chance count so, he’s a great source to go talk to,” said Scott, as he prepares to take what he has learned back to the Prince Albert Raiders and the WHL.

“The biggest thing right now is working on being a little bit more relaxed, confident and composed in the net, and that’s something he went through too.

“It’s common ground we can talk to each other about.”

For Kaskisuo, however, he knows that he will need to be relaxed, confident and composed in the present, as his window of opportunity exists this upcoming season, backing up Sparks.

“My future goal is to play in the NHL. Hands down, that’s what I feel like you have to have as a goal,” said Kaskisuo. “But right now, for next year, my goal is to make the Marlies, and just be a consistently good AHL goalie.”

It has been an impressive showing at every level for the Finn, after deciding to leave a backup position on the Jokerit U20 team in the Jr. A SM-Liiga, to pursue college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Kaskisuo is a proponent of making chances count.

“You might get a chance to play there, but the hardest part is to stay there.”