Photo Credit: Green Bay Gamblers
Canucks at Five will be a series consisting of draft profiles for potential selections at 5th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
By Scott Rosenhek
Casey Mittelstadt will likely be a favourite to be drafted by the Canucks. According to other media reports, the Canucks have been scouting Mittelstadt heavily for the last two months. It would make sense to say the Canucks will likely draft him if he is not selected by Dallas or Colorado first.
As we can see, Casey is a big forward with good NHL size and is ranked within the top 5 across the board by other scouting services. It is worth noting that in the TSN Mock Draft done by Craig Button, he has Casey Mittelstadt being selected at 8th overall.
The Canucks struggled with many things this year, especially when it came to goal scoring and power play success, finishing 29th in the league in both categories. When it comes to producing offence, Casey Mittelstadt has that in spades. He is a playmaker and produced 30 points in 24 games (1.25 points per game) for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL. For reference, Brock Boeser had 68 points in 57 games (1.19 ppg).
If you are wondering why Mittelstadt played so many fewer games, it is because he left his USHL team early in the season to play with his childhood hockey friends at Eden Prairie High in the USHS. This league is not as competitive as the USHL, so Mittelstadt dominated, scoring 64 points in 25 games.
Some people have been very critical of this decision to play in a less competitive league as they feel it doesn’t allow Casey to showcase his full potential. Personally, I would not worry about the decision too much as these games in both leagues allowed Mittelstadt to show his amazing blend of speed, skill and vision.
One thing Canucks fans may be concerned about on the surface is the last time the team drafted someone who spent more of their season with a high school team. I am talking about Patrick White from the 2007 entry draft. The two players are similar in size and White scored 36 points in 17 games in the USHS and was committed to the same college as Mittelstadt (University of Minnesota).
White struggled mightily in the NCAA and never played a game for the Vancouver Canucks. I can understand the concern, but frankly, these players are very different. Mittlestadt’s electrifying offensive play has translated well to the USHL. Patrick White could only produce 9 points in 12 games in his brief stint in the USHL.
The last thing I want to address is the concern over Mittlestadt’s even strength production. Generally, even strength production provides us with the ability to make projections from something that is constant. Power plays are not given consistently, especially with the current state of officiating in the NHL.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that most of Casey Mittelstadt’s points come on the power play. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a strike against drafting him. The power play has been an excellent time for him to show the strengths of his style of play. Mittelstadt plays a North-South game, taking full advantage of his speed in transition. Combine that with his elite vision and puck handling and the complete package is quite impressive.
To be honest, power play production would be more of a concern if Mittlestadt had a high goals to assists ratio, like Jake Virtanen (sorry, Jake!) and 2017 draft eligible Michael Rasmussen. These two factors combined with big forwards is usually a bad sign of the player using his size to dominate in a lesser league. This advantage would disappear in the NHL where everyone is generally bigger. The good news is that Mittelstadt produces more assists in the USHS and has roughly the same amount of goals and assists in the USHL.
Taking this information into consideration, Casey Mittelstadt is a very exciting forward in this year’s draft. His skill set is something the Canucks desperately need and isn’t a bad consolation prize for losing out on all three lotteries, assuming he is available on draft day. If we do draft Mittelstadt, I hope everyone can be patient. The time spent in college may just do wonders for a very promising future career. I mean hey, just look at Brock Boeser.
And with that, I will leave you a link to see some of Casey Mittelstadt’s highlights in the last couple of years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEI3cfvjnXE&t