Just as it looked like Casey Mittelstadt was ready to take the next step in his NHL career, disaster has struck. The 23-year-old forward has been out for most of the regular season so far, playing in just one game at the beginning of the year and three more in recent days. Now, after suffering another injury, the Sabres have announced Mittelstadt underwent successful surgery today and is out indefinitely. The club hopes he will play again this season.
It’s been a difficult road for the eighth-overall pick from 2017. Mittelstadt recorded just 39 points in his first 114 NHL games, which were spread out over three seasons. The dynamic playmaker from the University of Minnesota and the U.S. World Junior team was nowhere to be found, as the speed of the professional game swallowed his creativity. Last season, it seemed to be finding a way out, as Mittelstadt recorded 10 goals and 22 points in 41 games. Not the game-changing presence some expected him to become, but a good start for a young player finding his NHL legs.
Now, things have been set back in a big way. Mittelstadt has competed just four times in the first two months of the season and faces another long recovery period. The three-year contract he signed in September that had a chance to be a huge bargain for the Sabres is now a complete unknown once again, with it unclear when he’ll be back in the lineup.
To this point, Mittelstadt has just one goal and no assists on the season. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to increase those totals by the end of the year.