The Sabres have signed their top prospect.
Buffalo has agreed to a three-year deal with center Casey Mittelstadt. He is expected to arrive in town Monday or Tuesday. Coach Phil Housley said he'd like to play Mittelstadt as soon as possible.
Because of Mittelstadt's birth month (November) and a clause in the collective bargaining agreement, Mittelstadt's contract will begin with his first game. So the first year will be this season if he plays, and the deal will run through 2019-20.
Terms were not immediately available, but the rookie maximum is $925,000 per year.
Drafted with the No. 8 overall pick in 2017, Mittelstadt completed his freshman year at the University of Minnesota this month. He finished second for Minnesota with 30 points in 34 games. He scored 11 times and added 19 assists while earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team. The center tied for the Minnesota lead with four power-play goals and was tied for second with 95 shots.
Sabres fans have been clamoring for the 19-year-old since watching him excel during the World Juniors in Buffalo this winter. Mittelstadt was the tournament MVP after recording four goals and 11 points in seven games for the United States.
Mittelstadt leaves behind uncertain times in Minnesota. Coach Don Lucia has stepped down after being on the bench since 1999.
The prospect will join an organization looking for positive news. The Sabres head into Monday's game in Toronto as losers of four straight, falling to 23-40-12 and last overall in the NHL.
Buffalo has just seven games remaining, including Monday's visit to Toronto. The Sabres have two home games left. They play Detroit on Thursday and host Ottawa in KeyBank Center on April 4.
The regular season ends April 7 in Florida.
The Rochester Americans have made the American Hockey League playoffs, but because of AHL rules, Mittelstadt will not be eligible to play for the Amerks if he appears in a game with Buffalo. His leverage included getting NHL contract that begins this season rather sign a tryout deal with the Amerks.
Mittelstadt immediately adds talent to an NHL organization that needs it.
Story topics: Casey Mittelstadt