Penguins prospect Kasper Bjorkqvist is staying in Europe in 2020-21. They made a cool video:
From the team, KooKoo (via the always reliable google translate):
2016 World Youth Champion Kasper Björkqvist, 23, reinforces the KooKoo attack with a year-long loan agreement.
Björkqvist signed a two-year NHL newcomer deal with Pittsburgh Penguis in May 2019 and the previous season’s winger played in the AHL in the colors of Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguis. Prior to his NHL deal, Björkqvist played for the previous three seasons in the U.S. University Series NCAA in the ranks of Providence College, where he was also allowed to carry the captain’s ribbon.
In the first season, Björkqvist scored three goals in 30 matches in the NCAA, 16 goals in 40 matches in the second season and 17 + 13 = 30 in 42 matches in the 2018–2019 season.
Björkqvist is a type of player that is hard not to like. Throwing into the game and the amount of work from night to night are at a maximum, Jarno Kultanen, KooKoo’s sports director, comments on the new orange-black player.
The attacker, who is based in Espoo and played in the Espoo Blues during his youth, is familiar to Jussi Ahokka from both Espoo and Young Lions. Björkqvist was winning World Cup gold in the Young Lions at home in 2016. In Little Lions (U18), the striker has also gained confidence in the role of captain.
The previous season was short for Björkqvist due to injury, but now the young striker’s promise is ready for new challenges.
After the unfortunate last season, there will certainly be enough hunger. The fact that both Kasper and Pittsburgh felt it was a good place for KooKoo to develop this season was a very positive thing for us. When the player himself expressed his desire to play in Kouvola, a contract was easily reached.
“I look forward to it and it’s great to come back to Finland to play after several years. I’ve been to Kouvola in the past, including last summer housing fair, and more than once Kymi Grand Prix, joyful arrived Lumo arena,” Björkqvist commented.
In 2020, this makes some sense — the AHL season is tentatively scheduled to start on December 4th — but professionally isn’t a step in the right direction for a potential NHL career.
Bjorkqvist hasn’t played in Finland since the 2015-16 season, being as he came over to play at Providence College for three seasons and then spent last year in Wilkes-Barre.
The problem was, Bjorkqvist didn’t spend much time on the ice. His season ended on October 19th and he underwent knee surgery to repair a damaged ACL. Bjorkqvist spent summer 2019 rehabbing a major shoulder surgery.
And he’s now 23-years old. Once a second round pick in the NHL draft, Bjorkqvist hasn’t been able to capitalize much on that lately, some of that without his fault.
Bjorkqvist is scheduled to be a restricted free agent next summer. So we’ll see if the Penguins end up bringing him back for 2021-22.
Related: Kasper Bjorkqvist Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 rankings