DOB: November 22, 1998 (Age, 19)
Draft: 2017, 8th overall
How acquired: Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed: March 26, 2018, 3yr./$4.475 million
Final year of contract: 2019-20
2017-18 Stats: 6 games played | 1 goal | 4 assists | 5 points | +1 | 14:01 ATOI
Buffalo Career Stats: 6 games | 1 goal | 4 assists | 5 points | +1 | 14:01 ATOI
What we wrote preseason: N/A
What we wrote mid-season: N/A
Impressions on his play this year: For a guy who couldn't do a pull up at the 2017 NHL Combine, Mittelstadt has done pretty well for himself thus far as the teenager from Edina, MN had a strong freshman season at the University of Minnesota where he scored 11 goals and 30 points in 34 games. After the Golden Gophers were eliminated from the NCAA D-1 Men's Hockey Tournament, Mittelstadt turned pro signing his three-year entry-level deal.
At 6'1" 201 lbs. Mittelstadt has an NHL frame and he needed that size in a rough and tumble Big-10 conference last season as teams reverted to defense-first/trap systems to try and stymie him. Mittelstadt doesn't have blazing speed but the kid can skate and he uses what speed he has to either create or find open space across the entire ice surface and when he finds that space he creates scoring opportunities.
During his brief cup of coffee with the Sabres, Mittelstadt's skill-level and hockey smarts showed he belonged then said at locker cleanout that those six games gave him a pretty good idea as to what he needs to work on this summer to, in his words, "get better for next year." A well-grounded Mittelstadt told the gathered media, "Obviously there's a lot of little things I can do. Little things defensively, closing my gap and things like that, working on faceoffs."
An groin injury kept him from an invite to play at the World Hockey Championship which would have been a great way to further his development while playing with and against some of the best players in the world. That will have to wait.
Questions moving forward: Will coach Phil Housley have him at wing or at center next season? Can Mittelstadt add some strength and muscle to his frame? How much more will he grow physically? How much more can he add to his skating? How will he adapt to an 82-game season in his first full year? Just how high is his ceiling at the NHL-level?
Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via sabres.com and hockey reference.com.
Locker room cleanout interview via sabres.com: