"The Buffalo Sabres select ______ _____ from ___________."
Will new Sabres GM Jason Botterill be one of those guys who does the whole "We want to say hi to our fans watching from 716 Food and Sport back in Buffalo" or will he take after his predecessor and just announce the pick with a subdued look?
We will more than likely find out on June 23 at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago. The Sabres hold the eighth overall pick and assuming they don't make a trade, they have plenty of options with their first selection. As the draft rapidly approaches we'll look at some intriguing prospects for the Sabres and break down what they bring to the table. Buckle up, it's going to be a fun few weeks.
Center, Green Bay Gamblers, USHL -- Minnesota Golden Gophers commit
6'1" - 201 pounds
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there are few things more important to a high school hockey player than luscious locks and state supremacy. Winning the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament means everything -- just ask 2017 NHL Draft Prospect Casey Mittelstadt.
"I think it's really hard to explain to someone who isn't from there," Mittelstadt said at the NHL Combine. "When you're from Minny a state championship is almost equal to the Stanley Cup."
That's why the 18-year-old returned to high school for his senior season. His team came up short, but Mittelstadt put on a clinic, scoring 64 points (!) in 25 games. He followed up high school with a quick stint in the USHL, tallying 30 points in 24 games for the Green Bay Gamblers.
"Mittelstadt is one of these anomalies that come along every few years [from high school hockey.]" Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "We've watched him play against his peers in international tournaments and have seen him play in the USHL and at various camps, and he is always making a difference. It doesn't really matter where he plays because you get the same game from him no matter the environment."
His impressive play earned him the third highest grade among North Americans skaters from NHL Central Scouting. In the last few months, Mittelstadt's draft status has skyrocketed, making him almost a surefire top-ten pick.
He needs some developing, but next year he's heading to Minnesota to play for the Golden Gophers, where he plans on hitting the weights.
"Obviously [I want to] get stronger. I think I was kind of a late grower, so I've got a lot of things to get stronger on and get in the weight room."
The Sabres need defensive help, that's obvious, but personally, I think NHL teams should always consider taking the best player available. Mittelstadt might not even be available when the Sabres are on the clock, but if he is, Botterill should, and will, consider taking the dynamic center from Minnesota. While in Buffalo Mittelstadt met with the Sabres and their staff during a pre-draft meeting.
" I think it went well. Obviously, they've got kind of a new staff in there so it was pretty relaxed and I thought I did well in there so we'll see how it goes but I think I did well."
Could you imagine the versatility he would provide down the middle in a few years? 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.
Mittelstadt has oodles of potential. He'll hear his name called early in the first round on June 23 and if Jason Botterill is the one who calls his name, Sabres fans should be excited.
Previous Sabres Draft Profiles: