Thanks to all of the attention placed on the Buffalo Sabres’ 2018 No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin the past few weeks, it’s difficult to remember that Casey Mittlestadt was making Sabres fans mouth’s drool a few months ago.
The 2017 No. 8 overall pick dazzled at the World Juniors this past winter with four goals and 11 points, earning tournament MVP honors as he helped Team USA to bronze much to the glee of the hosting city.
After finishing his freshman season at Minnesota with 11 goals and 34 points, the forward inked a deal with Buffalo. Mittelstadt went on to play in the Sabres’ final six games picking up a goal and four assists.
“It’s been a bit of whirl win,” Mittelstadt said of the past couple months. “My parents got to come out for my first game and they were here for the World Juniors. My dad got to see my first goal. It’s been really cool for me and family.”
Sabres fans let out a rare cheer at the KeyBank Center this season on March 29th when Mittelstadt registered an assist in his professional debut.
This week Mittelstadt finds himself right back where he was 12 months ago at the Sabres Development camp.
Even though the stage doesn’t quite measure up to where he’s been this winter and spring, the young forward is be glad to be where he’s at.
“It was obviously a blast,” Mittelstadt said. “I got to catch up with a lot of guys from last year. I think everyone is a little bit rusty so its good to get out there and get a good sweat in.”
For Rochester Americans head coach Chris Taylor it’s a world of difference compared to what he saw from Mittelstadt last year at this time.
“You can tell by his body and his maturity level (that he’s grown),” said Taylor, who ran both on-ice practice sessions on Wednesday. “Every time he came down the ice it looked easy for him. You can tell which guys have been here before and are going to make it to the next level just because of the way they take and receive passes, their shots, how they handle themselves; it’s just different.”
Despite of how far he’s come along, there’s still more Mittelstadt has to do before training camp comes along in September.
“I’ve been getting in the weight room a lot,” Mittelstadt said. “Now that we’re getting to July I’m going to be ramping it up and skating more. It’s a lot of fine-tuning little things.”
It’s all but certain that Mittelstadt will be on the Sabres roster this upcoming fall, but his exact spot in the lineup remains unclear.
“Honestly we’ll find out,” Mittelstadt said. “That’s up to coach. Wherever I’m at, I’ll be happy to contribute to the team.”