Center, Green Bay Gamblers, USHL -- Minnesota Golden Gophers commit
6'1" - 201 pounds
Casey Mittelstadt won't be ready to step into the NHL right away but he might be worth the wait. On Friday Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made his first draft pick as a GM, selecting Mittelstadt with the eighth overall pick.
Mittelstadt, 18, spent last season with two teams -- the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL and his high school team, Eden Prairie in Minnesota. In 25 games with his school, Mittelstadt scored an impressive 64 points in 25 games [21G, 43A]. With the Gamblers, Mittelstadt tallied 30 points in 24 games [13G, 17A].
"Obviously it's a dream come true, I'm pretty speechless right now," Mittelstadt told NBC Sports Network after he was selected. "Me and my family have had a great week here in Chicago. This is kind of the cherry on top."
Ranked the third best skater among North Americans by NHL Central Scouting, Mittelstadt plans on continuing his hockey career with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. When asked how soon he could make an impact in the NHL, Mittelstadt hinted that it would take some time.
"Obviously, we're going to have to talk about that with me and my family and reassess from there. I'm going to college next year and we'll see from there."
"The Buffalo Sabres are pleased to select from Eden Prairie, Casey Mittelstadt."
12 words. Not bad, Botterill.
Mittelstadt grew up 30 minutes down the road from new Sabres head coach Phil Housley. It may take Mittelstadt some time to get to the NHL and play for Housley, but few players in the 2017 Draft have the potential Mittelstadt does.
Casey Mittelstadt could become an absolute star. One of the few players in this class with first line upside. Now in the Atlantic Division.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) June 23, 2017
While in Buffalo for the NHL Combine, Mittelstadt admitted that he needs to get stronger and says he was a bit of a late bloomer. During the physical testing, he wasn't able to complete a pull-up but let's not get carried away, that's not that big of a deal.
Here's what Elite Hockey Prospects says about Mittelstadt:
"An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don't phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition's armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won't be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He's a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level."
Sabres make a fantastic pick in Casey Mittelstadt. Speed, offense, brings some intensity. Has really worked on his 200-foot game.
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) June 23, 2017
At the combine, his two-way play was praised, along with his ability to finish around the net.
From the Sabres standpoint, this gives the organization plenty of versatility. Eichel, O'Reilly, and Mittelstadt down the middle? Get your popcorn ready. The move would also essentially keep Reinhart on the wing, where he's proven to be valuable -- especially when playing with his roommate and best buddy.
"We were ecstatic to get Casey as a part of our group," Botterill told NBCSN. "We just think the speed that he plays at, the skill that he has, he's a dynamic offensive player and with players such as Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, we think he's going to fit in with that group in the near future."
We knew Mittelstadt would hear his name called early in the first round and Sabres fans should be excited that Botterill was the one calling it.