Star Tribune file photo
Casey Mittelstadt’s stock continues to rise. The former Eden Prairie star and Gophers recruit climbed to No. 3 among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings released Tuesday.
Mittelstadt is the highest-rated skater outside of the Canadian Hockey League and one of the highest-rated Minnesotans in draft rankings history. The forward was ranked No. 5 in the midterm rankings.
Several Minnesota high school standouts, Gophers recruits and top college hockey freshman produced in the State of Hockey were also recognized in the final rankings.
Jake Oettinger, Boston University’s star freshman goaltender from Lakeville, is North America’s top goalie prospect. The 6-4, 212-pounder improved his midterm ranking of No. 3 among goalies after a standout college hockey season. He was a finalist for the nation’s top goaltender award with a 2.11 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
Ryan Poehling, St. Cloud State’s star freshman forward from Lakeville North, also improved his status to No. 13 among North American skaters. The 6-2, 183-pound center played 32 games for the Huskies this season and scored seven goals, six assists.
Mittelstadt improved his standing with scouts despite concerns another year of high school hockey would slow his development. The 6-1, 201-pound center led Eden Prairie back to the state tournament, but had his run at redemption spoiled when Grand Rapids upset the top-seeded Eagles in the semifinals, 3-2.
Mittelstadt started the 2016-2017 season playing in the USHL before breaking to return to Eden Prairie for his senior season. He returned to the Green Bay Gamblers and totaled 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 24 games.
Gophers recruit Scott Reedy improved to No. 40, up from 47, among North American skaters. The 6-2, 204-pound center scored 31 goals and had 24 assists 74 games with the U.S. U-18 team this season. He is a Shattuck-St. Mary’s alum from Prior Lake.
The Gophers had three other recruits ranked. Defenseman Nathan Knoepke (Farmington/U.S. developmental program) climbed into the Top 100, jumping to No. 79 from 106. The 6-3, 202-pound defenseman had five goals, 16 assists for the U.S. U-18 team this season. Defenseman Clayton Phillips (Edina/USHL) fell to No. 99 and forward Brannon McManus (Newport Beach, Calif./USHL) dropped to No. 191.
The last North American skater to be rated as high as Mittelstadt was also a Gophers recruit. Erik Johnson was the 2006 NHL Central Scouting's No. 1 prospect and went onto to the No. 1 overall pick. He played one season with the Gophers.
Check out the complete NHL Central Scouting final rankings for more Minnesota connections.