Eden Prairie’s Casey Mittelstadt Chooses the Gophers

Eden Prairie’s Casey Mittelstadt Chooses the Gophers

The Gophers landed the hockey equivalent of an emergent 5-star recruit with their sole commitment of this fall, Eden Prairie sophomore forward Casey Mittelstadt. With the Golden Gophers captained by another of Eden Prairie’s own, Kyle Rau, this season, the Gophers may have secured another potential 100-point club member in Mittelstadt, who finished 2nd in overall goalscoring (with 14) as a 15-year-old rookie in the Elite League this season. Eden Prairie Bantam AA coach Tom Gerdes described them in the same breadth, “I’d like to take credit (for his clutch scoring), but Casey is just one of those kids who at the end of the game wants the puck…[Kyle] Rau was just like him, and we’d plan on getting him the puck.”

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To describe his rise in relevance as meteoric is in some ways the perfect word and entirely incorrect at the same time; it’s only meteoric to those that didn’t catch Casey as a bantam, where he tallied 91 goals in 60 games en route to being unanimously named Youth Hockey Hub’s player of the year. With eleven game-winners on his resumé in that one season (including this one we caught in person at the inaugural Blue Ox tournament), it doesn’t take any scouting to know that Mittelstadt has a scoring touch. That said, the meteoric aspect is that Mittelstadt hit Elite League competition and had the same kind of success with absolutely no hiccups, side-stepping the usual transition from bantam to high school hockey before making his way to the highest level competition available in the immediate area. As his Elite League coach for Team Southeast Sean Toomey put it to the league’s website, “He’s turned the maturity curve pretty quickly…I expected him to need a full week of adjustment time, and it was really only a weekend (for him to adjust). I’m pleasantly surprised with how quickly he’s adjusted, but then again I’m not surprised.”

Scouting Mittelstadt is as easy as it gets because he’s a fun player to watch. Mittelstadt’s level of engagement is so high that you’re scouting him whether you’re trying to or not, he gets the puck and makes things happen. This season, skating with a gifted producer in Nick Swaney (UMD) has seen a unique chemistry emerge, Mittelstadt’s quick release and intuitive scoring instincts pair with Swaney’s ability to see the ice and make others better. The fact that both are consistently dangerous threats means any defensive pairing is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario when they gain the offensive blue. On the other side of that line is fellow Eden Prairie forward Michael Graham, also a UMD recruit. If you want an idea of how the Gophers latest pick-up is going to do in high school this year – and how effective that line has been – all but three of his 14 goals, one of which was unassisted, wasn’t assisted on from either Swaney or Graham this fall. All but one of his 14 assists this year wasn’t on a play where Graham or Swaney were involved. So, second overall goal-scorer in the Elite League, third overall in points, but he certainly had some help. It spells an extremely dangerous scoring line for Eden Prairie this winter. Graham, who played with UNO recruit and Washington Capitals 2014 draft pick Steven Spinner at EP last season, will likely fall into a similar role with a much younger linemate in Mittelstadt this winter.

From an advanced stats point of view he would be a “high-event” style player who is constantly causing things that compilers of those statistics track. He’s very natural with the puck, has excellent anticipation on and off the puck, plays with confidence, a lot of smarts and energy. Below is our scouting report following the first weekend of Elite League action this fall.

Mittelstadt is a key get for the Gophers in another way, as he starts to seal in what a 2017 forward group is going to look like for the Gophers. Here it is:

  1. Leon Bristedt – Senior
  2. Robin Hoglund – Senior
  3. Tom Novak – Junior
  4. Tyler Sheehy – Junior
  5. Jack Ramsey – Junior
  6. Tarek Baker – Sophomore
  7. Rem Pitlick – Sophomore
  8. Garrett Wait – Sophomore
  9. Ryan Norman – Sophomore
  10. William Fallstrom – Sophomore
  11. Casey Mittelstadt – Freshman
  12. Scott Reedy – Freshman
  13. Brannon McManus – Freshman

That’s a truly intimidating amount of skill on campus, even if some of those upperclassmen depart early. It’s also a testament to the amount of talent in the area when you consider that top in-state 1998 talents Joey Anderson (Minnesota-Duluth), Riley Tufte (Minnesota-Duluth) and Mitchell Mattson (North Dakota) aren’t even headed there. Should the Gophers land another key get like Grant Mismash or just do their homework on one of the up-and-coming 1998s (who are still very young) and, in the coming years, pick up someone to fill a depth scoring role such as Luke Paterson (Wayzata HS) or Max Johnson (Lakeville North HS), the Gophers quickly become extremely well-positioned.

For more on the Mittelstadt commitment, see the report from our friends at YHH, where they note that Mittelstadt had garnered interest from Division 1 powers North Dakota, Boston College, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State before choosing the Gophers on the day of his visit. Mittelstadt is a 2017 NHL draft eligible.

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