Reliable third-pairing defender who sees the ice well and makes a solid first pass out of the zone.
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May 2018 – Kotkansalo took his reliable two-way game to Boston University where he continued to develop and work on his discipline and lateral mobility. While he did not put up a lot of points (two goals and four assists in 40 games played) in his first year with Boston, Kotkansalo has a good and heavy shot and the skills to become a decent offensive contributor at the NHL level. Known as a physical defenceman who sees the ice well and makes a good first pass, Kotkansalo is also a strong skater and closes gaps efficiently. The Wings will be patient and allow him to continue to develop until he is ready to take the next step. Kotkansalo projects as a potential top-four two-way NHL defenseman and a sleeper candidate down the road. Mark Hillier
September 2017 – Drafted by the Red Wings 71st overall in 2017 and a bit of a sleeper pick, Kotkansalo displayed two-way upside and a willingness to play a physical style last season. He often played with a defense-first mentality but he carries the puck well and makes a solid first pass out of the zone. In 2015-2016, Kotkansalo had four goals, 19 points and was a plus-9 in 48 games for the Blues U20 team of the Jr. A SM-Liiga. Last season, he had one goal, 12 points and was plus-12 in 47 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. His lack of offensive production can be taken with a grain of salt, as the Stampede were a low-scoring team whose leading scorer had 36 points in 54 games.
After the Red Wings’ development camp in July, Kotkansalo said, “I had a meeting with the GM and the coaches … and we were pretty much on the same page on what are my strengths and what I got to improve on. One thing is skating, like the mobility of the skating, and also getting shots through there so two big things for me.” Kotkansalo will take his reliable play to Boston University. Jameson Ewasiuk