Casey Mittelstadt has all the skills you could ask for in an offensive player. He has the creativity to open up lanes in the attacking end and the vision to find teammates who get to the other end of them.
He possesses a dangerous shot that demands the respect of defenders and goaltenders, keeping opposing players on their toes when he has the puck in their end. He can make plays at speed, and that’s a vital trait for a player as fleet of foot as he is. The opposition can be forced to scramble in an effort to contain him, as he uses his top-tier speed to transition the puck up ice, generating a scoring chance more often than not.
Birthplace: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
He has been at least a point-per-game player at every level and every tournament since his bantam days. Passing up a chance to head to the University of Minnesota one year early to instead complete his senior year of high school, he took that offence up a notch.
In a 25-game season, he outscored his closest teammate by 19 points, finishing the year with an average of better than 2.5 points per contest. He led his conference in assists and points, and earned the All-USA Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.
He did all that while only serving eight minutes in the penalty box, after being tagged for just one minor in 24 games played around the high-school season. With his speed he’s rarely chasing the game to be forced into taking a minor, spending the majority of his shifts in the offensive zone.
He hasn’t faced much resistance in his high-school career. This season he’s credited with a 58.3 shooting percentage, and that was actually the lowest mark of the last three years (69.8% in 2014-15, 73.7% in 2015-16). Those aren’t exceptional values in the Minnesota high-school system, nor even on his own team; eight Eden Prairie players are credited with shooting percentages of 50% or greater.
He was given the prestigious honour of the Mr. Hockey title as Minnesota’s top high-school senior, an award given in the past to players like Ryan McDonagh and Nick Leddy. He’ll begin his collegiate career with the University of Minnesota next year.
Future Considerations (May 2017)
Mittelstadt is skilled, quick, and creative, but above all he is tenacious and a hard worker. Despite his status as one of the more inexperienced USHL players, after returning from high school play with Eden Prairie he was dominant for long stretches, and undoubtedly one of the best forwards playing in the USHL this season. All in all, Mittelstadt is a constant offensive threat who is able to produce and capitalize on his own scoring chances.
Elite Prospects (2016)
An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked.
Future Considerations: 5
Central Scouting service: 3 (North American skaters)
Most services project Mittelstadt to be taken in the top five, with his complete offensive game placing him near the top of the list of available prospects.
With the three NHL draft lotteries won by teams relatively high in the standings, the clubs currently slated to draft around the #5 position are those that finished with the worst records. Their hopes of selecting an NHL-ready prospect to turn the franchise around were dashed, and how they will approach the first round is unknown.
The teams will be looking for a player who can make an impact in as short a time as possible, and that may work against a college-committed player like Mittelstadt. He’s clearly a top-end talent in this year’s draft, but more pressing needs may see him drop a few spots from his projected rank.