Incoming Minnesota freshman Casey Mittelstadt was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the 8th pick in the NHL Draft Friday night. Mittelstadt becomes the first Gopher selected in the top 10 of the NHL Draft since Kyle Okposo and Eric Johnson in 2006.
Mittelstadt was once thought to be a top 5 pick in the draft, but he did not fair as well as hoped in the physical fitness tests at the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo a few weeks ago. He will now end up on a Sabres team that features fellow college hockey alum Jack Eichel and former Gopher Hudson Fasching. Casey is the 10th Gopher to be selected by the Sabres in the NHL Draft and the first since Christian Isackson in 2010. Other famous former Gophers selected by Buffalo include Mike Ramsey, Keith Ballard and Thomas Vanek.
Mittelstadt will play for a coach who will completely understand how he feels. Buffalo named former Sabre great and Minnesota native Phil Housley as their head coach earlier this week. Housley was the 6th overall selection by the Sabres in the 1982 draft and went right from South St. Paul High School to the NHL.
He will still play his freshman year at the U...at least for the moment.
Mittelstadt in a one-on-one we just shot: “I’m gonna go to Minnesota for at least a year and when I’m ready to be a Sabre, I’ll be a Sabre."— Tom Martin (@4TomMartin) June 24, 2017
Mittelstadt was one of three Minnesotans selected in the first round of the draft. The Montreal Canadiens selected St. Cloud State’s Ryan Poeling with the 25th selection and the Dallas Stars selected Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger with the 26th pick. Poeling and Ottinger were teammates at Lakeville North for a few seasons in high school before Oettinger went to the US Development Team. Its the first time three Minnesotans were taken in the first round of the draft since 2010 when former Gopher Nick Bjugstad was one of the three selected.
The NHL Draft continues on Saturday and several other future Gophers should expect to hear their name called such as Scott Reedy, Nate Knoepke, and Brannon McMannus.