The Buffalo Sabres are about to get a jolt of youth upfront thanks to newly signed forward, Casey Mittelstadt. Mittelstadt will join the Sabres by way of the University of Minnesota. He signs a three-year deal and could show up on the ice as early as Thursday, when the Sabres host the Detroit Red Wings.
Casey Mittelstadt Inks Three-Year Deal with Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres heard it loud and clear from their alternate captain, Jack Eichel, the motivation to win in their upstate New York locker room is nonexistent. With many players reaching their peak, the Sabres desperately need youthful energy to pull their team out of their losing ways. The signing of Mittelstadt is definitely a step in the right direction.
Mittelstadt spent most of 2017-18 as a Freshman with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. He tallied a total of 30 points in 34 games, including 19 assists and 11 goals. The Gophers have also pumped out substantial NHL talent in the forms of Brady Skjei (New York Rangers), Phil Kessel (Pittsburgh Penguins) and fellow Sabre, Kyle Okposo.
Before joining the likes of the Gophers, Mittelstadt earned a spot on the IIHF U18 roster, earning seven points in nine games in 2015-16. The following season, he landed on the USA U20 roster, performing even better. Mittelstadt tallied 11 points in seven games, four goals, and seven assists.
Stacking Up Skills
There’s no doubt that the NHL is a completely different playing field than collegiate puck. However, the skills Mittelstadt has displayed thus far certainly position him well in a desperate Sabres team.
The Minnesota-native is an outstanding skater, allowing him to play a strong two-way game. He has exceptional acceleration and ability to beat the opposition to loose pucks. He’s also got great hockey sense, making intelligent passes to increase his line’s production. Mittelstadt’s soft hands allow him to finish plays close to the net and stick handle past even the most aggressive defensemen.
On the defensive side of his game, Mittelstadt is gritty and determined to get in on the backcheck. His willingness to block shots is clear, though his technique could stand for improvement. However, his dexterity with his stick allows him to create turnovers and begin the transition game, capitalizing on crucial mistakes from the opposition.
Blending into the Sabres
The Sabres are in a building year, every year. Unfortunately for the Sabres management, they haven’t been able to string together enough cohesive talent to push the team out of their massive rut. Their current roster seems to have accepted their fate at the bottom of the pack, with the exception of Eichel. Currently, the Sabres sit dead-last in the standings with 58 points and a -74 goal differential. They most recently fell 5-1 against the Rangers on Saturday evening.
Mittelstadt is clearly a player that wants to make an impact. His fresh energy and desire to win could help the Sabres complete their season with some hope. With any luck, his presence will also catapult them into a successful off-season and even brighter future.
Embed from Getty Images