If the Colorado Avalanche fall to #4 in the 2017 NHL Draft or trade down, they might select the highly competitive Casey Mittelstadt.
The Colorado Avalanche might have the most options of any team at the 2017 NHL Draft. Because they finished last in the NHL, they have the best chance of winning picks #1 through #3 — just under 18%. They are guaranteed the lowest they’ll pick is #4.
This year is not known for being a stellar draft year because there’s not a generational talent like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. So, if the Avalanche get the first-overall pick, they might consider trading down.
Forward Casey Mittelstadt is one of the top prospects this year. He’s scouted to go between #3 and #5, putting him right in the Avalanche’s selection order if they don’t get the top-two picks.
Eden Prairie High School
November 22, 1998 (18 years old)
: Center/Left Wing
Center Casey Middlestadt is considered the most exciting player to come out of Minnesota since Colorado Avalanche defensemanErik Johnson
— literally. It’s thought he’ll go higher than any other Minnesotan other than Johnson, who went first-overall in 2006. That’s pretty heady stuff.
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Many scouting reports call Mittelstadt a “dominant” player. The Draft Site describes him as a “thick strong high schooler who dominates the entire ice.” The site remarks on how quickly he moves into the offensive zone to create excellent scoring chances for his team.
Unfortunately, Casey has been playing somewhat under his level. He chose to stay with the Eden Prairie High School team when he was all set to go to the University of Minnesota to be a Golden Gopher. (Which is another Erik Johnson hallmark.) However, though Mittelstadt had taken surplus credits so he could graduate early on be a Gopher, he chose to stay with Eden Prairie to get another shot at the high school state championship. (They didn’t win.)
Peter Harling of Dobber Prospects concurs with the lament that it’s hard to properly judge Casey because he played high school hockey:
"“His decision to play high school hockey in his draft year has certainly made it difficult to gauge his development as he is playing against lesser competition. Defensively he is adequate but playing at a lower level may have hurt his defensive development.”"
Harling considers Mittelstadt’s puck skills to be elite. He also praises is playmaking skills, adding that they all complement his “lethal shot.”
Elite Prospects considers Mittelstadt to be the “complete package” because of his speed, skill and hockey IQ. The site considers his creativity and compete level to be hallmarks of his game. The report describes the special aspects of his creativity and compete level as follows:
"“Bigger players don’t phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition’s armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won’t be able to read in time.”"
As always, Future Considerations has some of the best scouting on Casey Mittelstadt. The site calls Casey a “smart, quick and highly skilled center.” The site praises his “first-step jump” as well as his “insane ability to shield the puck from defenders.”
Something that was especially interesting to me is that the site notes that Mittelstadt “never takes a shift off” and is especially good at winning loose puck battles. The site considers him to be a “future top-line, two-way guy.”
Here’s Casey Mittelstadt in action:
Casey Mittelstadt and the Colorado Avalanche
Casey Mittelstadt is an interesting prospect for the Colorado Avalanche. He certainly seems to have the qualities to team says it’s looking for now — specifically speed. Certainly his puck handling skills and ice vision would be a boon to the team — if we can count on him. As several sites noted, it’s hard to gauge how elite his skills are since he played with and against competition below his level.
That said, two things that wouldn’t be affected by his playing high school high hockey are his compete level and tenacity. As more than one scout noticed, both are high with Mittelstadt. Both of those are qualities that could really benefit the Colorado Avalanche, which has been known to waver in those two categories.
Here’s the thing — Mittelstadt is committed to playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers next season. It’s highly likely the Colorado Avalanche want a player they can put into the lineup next season, even sporadically. Thyat’s usually what you see with a top-four draft pick. Mittelstadt won’t be available.
MORE COLORADO AVALANCHE DRAFT PROSPECTS:
- Michael Rasmussen’s Huge Presence
- Timothy Liljegren’s Creative Offensive Defense
- Gabriel Vilardi’s Advanced Stats
That said, I don’t think the Colorado Avalanche would pass Casey over for that reason alone. It’s possible they might choose him if they fall to the #4 pick. If they trade down lower and Mittelstadt is still available, they’d probably snag him and call themselves lucky.