By Kevin Fortier (@ksfortier)
It feels like it was just last week when Flyers social media exploded when we learned the Flyers had moved from the 13th spot all the way up to selecting 2nd in the upcoming NHL entry draft. In reality, it occurred almost a month ago – Saturday, April 29.
The excitement has not subsided and fans continue to evaluate and discuss potential draft options for the Flyers. At PhillyisFlyer.com we have provided insight and analysis on the top three ranked players.
Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick are the consensus top two players available in the draft. Patrick was the consensus #1 heading into this year’s campaign, but his rash of injuries combined with Hischier’s stellar season resulted in analysts being mainly split between the two by the end of the season.
We provided articles on each player to enhance the fans understanding of what they offered to their prospective teams. The consensus #3 player is Gabe Vilardi. The Windsor Spitfire also has all the tools to make him a top 6, if not top line, contributor. The site hosts our outlook on Vilardi as well as Hischier and Patrick.
Finally, I wanted to include a dark horse option for the Flyers when they make their selection. However, when looking at the ranking houses, this player hardly comes off as someone who has gone unnoticed by scouts. In fact, his average ranking is basically equal to that of Vilardi.
WITH THE NUMBER 2 PICK THE FLYERS SELECT – CASEY MITTELSTADT
Weight: 201 pounds
Position: Center/Left Wing
Team: Green Bay Gamblers
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN US
2017 Stats: Games: 49 Goals: 34 Assists: 60 Points: 94 +/-: +NA
2016 Stats: Games: 44 Goals: 36 Assists: 64 Points: 100 +/-: +NA
* Stats are combination of high school and juniors
- 2016/17 USHS Player of Year
- 2015/16 USHS Player of Year
- 2015/16 WJC U-18 Bronze Medal
- Future Considerations – 4th
- NHL Central Scouting – 3rd
- McKeen’s Hockey – 4th
- Hockey Prospects dot Com – 3rd
- ISS Hockey – 5th
American born Casey Mittelstadt is the next highest rated player in the entry draft after Patrick, Hischier and Vilardi. He is the only other player in the top 5 for all of the five major rating sites. His average rating is 3.8 – a tiny decimal place higher than Vilardi.
Mittelstadt will be attending college at the University of Minnesota in the fall joining Vinnie Lettieri, Ryan Lindgren and Ryan Collins among other players also drafted by NHL teams.
Casey Mittelstadt is a natural center who also plays left wing. He has good size standing 6’1” and 201 pounds. He still has time to grow into his frame and add additional muscle as he continues to develop as a player while at college.
“At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, the soon-to-be University of Minnesota Golden Gopher is the real deal with size, elite-level skill, speed and hockey smarts revealed by his superior puck handling, positioning and ability to initiate complex and deceptive offensive plays. In addition to his prolific scoring, he has a great work ethic and doesn’t back down when challenged by larger, stronger opponents.” – Kevin Wickersham (The Hockey Writers)
Mittelstadt surprised some when he chose to return to high school hockey in 2016/17. He tallied 64 points (21 goals) in 25 games. He then joined his junior team to finish the season playing in 24 games scoring 30 points.
In the 2015/16 season he dominated the high school ranks scoring 36 goals and 100 points combined between his team and Team Southeast. He also joined the US national U18 team scoring 13 points in 13 games and played in the WJC U18 tournament posting 9 points in 7 games.
In addition, he was invited to play in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament adding 7 points over 4 games. His play garnered additional attention from the scouts cementing him as a high end prospect to watch.
Mittelstadt has outstanding skating with top end speed. He also has a fast first step and very good acceleration. He plays a solid 200 foot game, but could increase his lower body strength which would allow him to win more board battles and fight through checking situations.
He projects to have the potential to be a top line center or wing. He will continue to sharpen his skill set over the next few years while at college. He is a player who a team needs to be a little more patient with given his lower level of competition than some others. However, he has all of the skills to be a high end talent for whoever selects him.
He is more of a higher risk/higher reward draft option. If given the time to mature and grow, and is not rushed to the NHL, he could be the total package for that team.
“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 bottle-necked. He’s a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level.” Curtis Joe (Elite Prospects)
Ron Hextall may not have the luxury of selecting a player who would most likely not join the team for another 3-4 years. Claude Giroux is almost 30 and the Flyers are seeking a player they can begin grooming as his replacement as top line center.
Mittelstadt is a very intriguing player who brings a dynamic set of skills. To be so highly rated, given his lack of time in juniors, is truly a reflection of the talent he displays on a regular basis. It reinforces that the scouts are convinced that, even when he steps up to the next level, he will continue to stand out among his peers as a top tier talent on the ice.