Casey Mittelstadt is heading to the Buffalo Sabres.
Mittelstadt, a two-time American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Hockey Player of the Year at Eden Prairie (Minn.), was drafted by the Sabres at No. 8 overall Friday night in Chicago.
“To be picked, me and my family are super excited,” Mittelstadt told news reporters, according to The Buffalo News. “It’s a huge honor. Obviously, going to a great place like Buffalo makes it even better. I was thrilled to go here. It’s a great place.”
Mittelstadt’s selection is the highest by a U.S.-born high school or prep school player since center Cristoval Nieves was selected by the New York Rangers at No. 29 in 2012. Nieves, from Baldwinsville, N.Y., played the 2011-12 season at the Kent School in Connecticut.
Mittelstadt began the 2016-17 season with Green Bay from the USHL, then played with Eden Prairie in hopes of winning a state title with his teammates from youth hockey and then returned to finish the season with Green Bay.
Mittelstadt entered the draft ranked as the No. 3 North American skater in the draft per NHL Central Scouting.
The 6-foot, 200-pound center led Eden Prairie to the Minnesota Class AA state semifinals before it fell to eventual state champion Grand Rapids (Minn.), 3-2. Even after falling short of the season’s ultimate goal, the next day, Mittelstadt scored the 82nd and final goal of his three-year varsity career in a 3-2 win against Lakeville South (Minn.) in the third-place game.
In 30 games, Mittelstadt scored 23 goals and dished out 49 assists for an average of 2.4 points a contest. He scored a point in all but two games and he had multiple assists 14 times. For his efforts, he won the state’s Mr. Hockey award and was the Star Tribune’s All-Metro Player of the Year.
He already has been at the University of Minnesota to begin workouts, although he has been among the prospects whom the league had chosen to do promotional material leading up to the draft. He now will focus on college.
“I’ll be going to Minnesota to try and develop, get bigger and stronger in the weight room,” said Mittelstadt, according to The Buffalo News. “These last few months have been a lot of fun, but at the same time I’m looking to get back, move into school, get in the weight room and start focusing on hockey a little more.”