Casey Mittelstadt leaves Gophers; signs with Sabres

Mittelstadt was a first round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Forward Casey Mittelstadt follows the puck during the Gophers' game against Penn State on Sunday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

Forward Casey Mittelstadt follows the puck during the Gophers’ game against Penn State on Sunday at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Drew Cove

First the seniors, then the coach, now Casey Mittelstadt.

The now-former Minnesota freshman decided Monday to forego his last three years of college hockey to sign with the team that drafted him eighth overall in the NHL entry draft in 2017.

Mittelstadt signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Buffalo Sabres Monday and will join the team sometime this week.

The freshman forward came to Minnesota last season after he played for Eden Prairie High School. As Minnesota missed the NCAA Tournament this season, Mittelstadt tallied 30 points in 34 games with 11 goals and 19 assists, good for second in team scoring.

Mittelstadt departed Monday six days after former head coach Don Lucia stepped down as head coach and four days after Gophers and World Junior teammate, Ryan Lindgren, signed with the New York Rangers, skipping out on his junior and senior seasons.

Mittelstadt showed off his talents to Sabres fans as he won the 2018 World Junior Championship’s most valuable player and helped the United States win bronze in Buffalo, New York. 

Though they never played together at Minnesota, Mittelstadt joins former Gophers forward Kyle Okposo on the Sabres.

The Gophers missed the NCAA Tournament this season. In its final series of the year, Minnesota was swept by Penn State in the Big Ten quarterfinals.