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Sabres' Mittelstadt on Buffalo, No. 37, lunch with Eichel

The Sabres introduced top prospect Casey Mittelstadt on Tuesday. Here are his thoughts on key topics:

* The 19-year-old had lunch with Jack Eichel before meeting the media in KeyBank Center.

"I just met Jack," Mittelstadt said. "We went out to lunch, which was nice to kind of get to know him. Obviously, he's pretty much the face of the team and obviously he's a really good player, makes some plays that other guys can't. It was nice to get to know him a little bit.

"It's definitely something pretty cool for a kid like me. Obviously, being a hockey player, you obviously know who Jack Eichel is. Getting to know him well and kind of having him welcome you in like that is something really special for me. It's good to know that he's excited I'm here and that he's interested in getting to know me."

* Mittelstadt will wear No. 37 for the Sabres, joining Matt Ellis, Mike Ryan, Curtis Brown, Barrie Moore, Lou Franceschetti, Bill Houlder and Shawn Anderson. The center says there's no special meaning with the number.

"My buddies from back home like, what number should I wear?" the Minnesota native said. "I've worn 11, 20, 21, 22. They're all taken, so I might as well switch it up and go for 37."

* He will make his NHL debut at home Thursday against Detroit.

"I'm going to try to approach it like any other game I've played," Mittelstadt said. "I'm one who likes routines. You can call them superstitions, whatever, but I guess I like my routines and I'm going to try to stick to them. They've gotten me to this point, and obviously coming to pro these six games will help me out and maybe give me some new routines, things that I need to do better before games or on off days, things like that.

"That's why I'm here. I'm here to learn, and I'm here to get ready for next season."

What routines does he have?

"I'm pretty particular about my sticks and things like that," he said. "I would probably say my sticks are the biggest thing, but I don't know. Honestly, I don't even know exactly what they are. I just kind of do them and it's become so regular that it feels normal."

* Mittelstadt left the University of Minnesota following his freshman season. The Gophers failed to make the NCAA Tournament on March 18, and he decided to come to Buffalo a week later.

"I wanted to make sure the decision that I come to that I'm both feet in," he said. "Obviously, I took a few days, almost a week to kind of weigh it out and see what I wanted to do. It came up over and over again. Both my feet were in to go pro and play in the NHL."

Sabres' Botterill: Learning in NHL now will help Mittelstadt, team later

* Longtime Gophers coach Don Lucia stepped down last week. Did that impact Mittelstadt's decision?

"Not really much at all," he said. "I definitely enjoyed having Coach Lucia and having all those coaches at the U for a year, but at the same time I grew up as a Minnesota kid. I wanted to go to the University of Minnesota. That was my dream. I don't think it mattered who the coach was. It was more the pride to wear the M and be able to do things like that.

"For me, I don't think that weighed much into it at all. Like I said, I really enjoyed Coach Lucia, but wearing the M was always my goal."

* Mittelstadt joins a group that includes young pros such as Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen and Brendan Guhle. They've dealt with plenty of losses, as Mittelstadt learned while in Buffalo playing in the World Juniors.

"I see how big it is for the city," he said. "I was able to see how nice the fans are and how really dedicated to the team they are. I think I can feel the struggle a little bit.

"Obviously, there's a big emphasis being put on the young guys to kind of turn it around here, and I think there's a really good young core. Obviously, Rochester's doing really well, and it's definitely exciting."

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