BUFFALO – In barely a year, Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt has lived all three of his hockey dreams.
Right now, having just signed his three-year, entry-level contract, Mittelstadt is beginning his NHL career. The slick center will likely make his debut Thursday.
Earlier this month, the eighth overall pick in 2017 finished his freshman season at the University of Minnesota. A year ago, he played at Eden Prairie High School, foregoing junior hockey most of the season because he wanted to win a state championship.
“As young as I can remember I wanted to play in the NHL,” Mittelstadt said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “My steps were always kind of I want to play high school, I want to go be a Gopher and go to the NHL. It’s pretty much every Minnesota kid’s dream.
“So for me, I’ve definitely lived a pretty perfect life to this point. I’m pretty lucky. My parents were really good growing up, they supported me through everything, gave me a lot of opportunities I couldn’t imagine.”
Two weeks ago, Mittelstadt, 19, wasn’t envisioning his future here quite yet. Minnesota seemed like a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
But an unlikely string of events kept the Golden Gophers out.
“Literally everything was going wrong pretty much,” Mittelstadt said.
At first, Mittelstadt was sad.
“It was so early that I didn’t even think that I was going to start thinking about what I was going to have to do,” he said.
Then Mittelstadt and the Sabres began discussing his future.
“I wanted to make sure the decision I came to I had both feet in,” he said. “Obviously, I took a few days, almost a week, to decide what I wanted to do. It came up over and over again both my feet were in to go pro and play in the NHL.”
Mittelstadt said a lot of things went into leaving school.
“We wanted it to be more of a partnership rather than like us two kind of clashing, going at it,” he said. “We wanted to figure out what was best for me. We kind of went through it and agreed on pretty much everything there. So it went pretty quick, pretty smoothly and obviously I’m definitely excited to be a Buffalo Sabre.”
Check back later for more on Mittelstadt!