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Sabres prospects & the pros: What's next for Casey Mittelstadt?

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Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-24 22:08:25-04

When it comes to college players, the Sabres have come up on the short end of signing prospects in the pipeline.

Jimmy Vesey, who Buffalo acquired the rights to negotiate with, first spurned Nashville before saying "no" to the Sabres and "hello" to the Big Apple.

And just a few days ago General Manager Jason Botterill said goaltender Cal Petersen was heading to free agency.

First round pick Casey Mittelstadt, who Buffalo selected 8th overall in this year's draft, is expected to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall, as a part of his development to get bigger, faster and stronger before jumping to the pros.

Is there reason to panic or think he won't don the Blue & Gold sweater?  No.

"You know our job and I think you want to be in a situation where you're developing players," Botterill said.  "I trust the college level. It doesn't mean -- I think the junior way is a very good way, too. Everyone wants to say what is the best way.  There's no best way, but I feel very comfortable with players and developing them in that scenario."

"It's a matter of making sure you're building that relationship over that two, three or four years.  We're trying to develop an organization in Buffalo and Rochester where players do want to come here so you're going to bring them to development camps, you're going to interact with them. They want to be a part of what we have at the top with Jack (Eichel), Risto (Rasmus Ristolainen) and (Ryan) O'Reilly."

Botterill has had success plucking talent from the college ranks.

Exhibit A: Jake Guentzel of the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  

The winger, who starred at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, scored twice in first NHL game.  He was also a force during the Pens' latest championship run with a rookie record 21 points, which included 13 goals.

Mittelstadt, by all accounts, is projected to be a stop six forward in the league.  He has the speed and skating ability to be a dynamic play maker, and he's excellent with the puck both as a passer and scorer.

"As we said (Friday), I don't want to put a timeline on (Casey's) development," Botterill said after the NHL Draft wrapped up.  "It's a scenario where we're going to give him plenty of attention. We feel comfortable where he is going to the University of Minnesota. You look at their track record of developing players -- they do a great job there.

"We'll evaluate him after each year and see what's best for him but if you're asking me straight up, what's the likely hood of him staying four years, very unlikely."