Monday, March 26, 2018

Casey Mittelstadt signs with Buffalo + his thoughts on the college experience

Casey Mittelstadt's time at the University of Minnesota has come to an end.

Mittelstadt signed an entry-level contract Monday (March 26, 2018) with the Buffalo Sabres, who drafted the Eden Prairie, MN native eighth overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Gopher forward will forgo his final three years of college eligibility.

Mittelstadt finishes his one college season second on the Gophers with 30 points (11G-19A) in 34 games. He missed three games this year to play in the 2018 WJC, leading the U-20 competition in points.

The first freshman to depart Minnesota for a professional contract since Nick Leddy in 2010, Mittelstadt joins WJC teammate Ryan Lindgren in departing the Gophers early after head coach Don Lucia stepped down last Tuesday following his 19th season. Whoever takes over as head coach in 2018-19 will have to replace the team's most dynamic forward and top defenseman.

In his short time in college, the 19 year-old Mittelstadt earned a new appreciation for the fans and students of the college hockey game.

"Definitely," Mittelstadt told The Gopher Hockey Blog before facing Penn State in the Big Ten quarterfinals. "Obviously, it's cool to see people go all out like that and have some fun. I think for me, it's always fun to see that stuff, it makes for some good laughs in the locker room, things like that. I always enjoy it and think it's pretty funny."

As the second collegian drafted in 2017, Mittelstadt was the focus of every opposing student section. From Ann Arbor to Grand Forks to State College and everywhere in between, students chanted his name and posted pictures of him attempting to do a pull-up.

"It's definitely fun. (Penn State) has a very good fanbase. I didn't expect it to be that good," he said. "Their student section was great and it made for a very fun weekend."

Mittelstadt signing now means he can burn a year of his ELC. He is expected to play for the Sabres later this week.

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