After an impressive rookie season in the collegiate ranks, and an MVP performance at the World Junior Championships, Casey Mittelstadt has staked a claim as one of the best prospects in hockey. His latest accomplishment is being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, and will soon have to decide whether or not to become a professional or return to the University of Minnesota for his sophomore season.
Though he gives no pretense of inside knowledge, Mike Morreale of NHL.com believes there is a “good chance” that Mittelstadt turns pro next season, something that will come as music to the ears of Buffalo Sabres fans. Buffalo has struggled through another terrible season, and will have a good shot at drafting Rasmus Dahlin or one of the other top names this June. Mittelstadt’s appearance on the NHL squad would give them another piece to build around, and someone to support Jack Eichel and company in their quest for the playoffs.
- Louis Belpedio doesn’t have a decision to make over whether or not to turn pro this summer, but instead how long he’ll wait before doing it. After completing his senior season at Miami University (Ohio), the Minnesota Wild draft pick could delay signing until August when he would become an unrestricted free agent. Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) reports that scenario seems unlikely at this point, as the two sides are moving towards a two-year entry-level contract. Belpedio scored 30 points in 37 games during his senior season, and could be a useful piece of the Minnesota defense in the coming years.
- Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) also gives us a long in-depth profile on Blake Hillman, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect who looks ready to turn pro in the coming weeks. Powers believes Hillman will “likely sign after this season” and even his head coach at the University of Denver Jim Montgomery seems to agree. Montgomery called Hillman “extremely close to being ready” for his pro transition, meaning Blackhawks fans could see another legitimate NHL prospect enter the system before long.