Casey Mittelstadt’s Rough Combine Performance

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are getting an amazing offensive talent with incoming freshman forward (C/W) Casey Mittelstadt. The native of Eden Prairie, MN, should add some much needed offensive skill to the Gophers top-six forward group.

Mittelstadt is everything the scouts say he is. I was able to watch him during the 2016 U-18 Worlds that were held in Grand Forks, ND. From my perspective, he stood out as one of those players that will make an impact at a higher level.

According to the NHL, the future Gophers forward is ranked as the third best North American skater heading into this month’s 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

That being said, Mittelstadt is not going to be known for his upper-body strength. Mittelstadt had a rough NHL combine and couldn’t do a single pullup and was able to only do a single bench press of 150 pounds. Before we get too worked up, former Gopher Phil Kessel had a rough draft combine, too.

While combine performance isn’t always a good indicator of what kind of player a prospect will be, I do find it puzzling that an 18-year-old, 6-foot-1, 200-pound male can’t do a single pull-up or more than one bench press.

As a player moves from one elite level of hockey to the next, they need to get strong and faster. College hockey is a huge step up from high school and junior hockey. Whether Mittelstadt wants to admit it or not, he’s going to have to discover the weight room in college.

Here’s what Mittelstadt had to say about his combine performance, courtesy of the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff.

“I try to work on being a hockey player; I don’t try to work on my bench press or pull-ups,” Mittelstadt said. “I want to be a hockey player and that’s what I train to do.

“… I think it’s good to be strong, and I think there are things I can get stronger at and work on, but I don’t think being able to do a pull-up is going to make me be able to handle the puck better or be a better shooter.”

Mittelstadt is right, however, in college, he’s going to be playing against older, stronger players that will eat his lunch in the corners if he doesn’t get stronger. Again, I would recommend he get with the Gophers strength coach right away. For those chomping at the bit for the upcoming college hockey season, the Fighting Hawks play the Golden Gophers at the Ralph on October 20-21, 2017.

Should NHL teams be concerned about Mittelstadt’s draft combine? Thoughts?