Photo By Dan Hickling/Hickling Images
Green Bay Gamblers forward Casey Mittelstadt is one of four first year NHL Draft eligible Americans participating in USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp. One of two 2017 NHL Draft eligible forwards, Mittelstadt is working to make USA Hockey’s final roster after spending parts of last season with Team USA in the USHL.
The Eden Prairie, MN native has already declared his commitment to play for the Gamblers next season before and after his final high school season with Eden Prairie High (USHS). Mittelstadt plans to use the NJEC and his early season in Green Bay to vault his play prior to attending the University of Minnesota next year.
“I think coming to play for Team USA is a confidence booster in itself,” Mittelstadt said. “Going to Green Bay, I want to play good before the season, and when I’m there, I’m part of the Gamblers and not a high school guy. When I go back to high school the big thing is trying to win the state title.”
Should he and Eden Prairie find success in the annual Minnesota State Tournament, Mittelstadt doesn’t want to settle for just one title this season.
“I’m trying to win a Clark Cup back with the Gamblers after,” Mittelstadt added. “That would be the ultimate goal. It’s going to be hard, but that’s the goal.”
Just the second youngest player at the NJEC behind goaltender Jake Oettinger, Mittelstadt remains realistic and optimist for the future. He immediately pointed out other young talent in camp, including the 34 total players with USHL ties in addition to those with NCAA and major junior experience.
“It’s an honor to be here, but as one of the young guys you kind of want to try to prove yourself, make some plays, and play my own game,” said Mittelstadt. “It would be a dream come true for me, and obviously shows we have a pretty good group of young guys coming up.”
NHL Central Scouting identified Mittelstadt along with 65 other USHL players in their Future List of North American prospects. The Gamblers had a total of eight players from their 30-man and affiliate roster, but none may be more important than the young gun looking to turn heads this season.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.