Challenges from Adams, Granato motivated Mittelstadt to solid season

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (37) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s no question Casey Mittelstadt improves a lot this season.
He went from a taxi squad guy at the beginning of the year to a staple in the Sabres lineup by the end. General Manager Kevyn Adams said he challenged Casey Mittelstadt before the 2021 season.

“All he did was show up from day one of training camp with a great attitude and put the work in and then when he did get the opportunity he kicked the door open,” Adams said.

And he certainly did. Mittelstadt worked his way into the lineup and became a key contributer late in the season. Not only did the GM challenge him, Mittelstadt put pressure on himself.

“It’s a good lesson for me to go home and realize the amount of work I have to put in every day and the things that I have to do away from the rink to get myself ready to play and I think that was the biggest difference more than anything. I think when you do that you get in the zone and start playing well,” Mittelstadt said.

Casey’s numbers drastically improved once Don Granato took over. Nine goals and 17 points in 28 games. A move to center helped the numbers, but so did Granato’s belief in the young forward.

“It’s good for me to come into the game and know that I was going to play and know that I was going to play against the other teams top players usually and for me that leaves no room to fail,” Mittelstadt said.

With roster uncertainty for next year, Mittelstadt could be challenged with a leadership role, one he’s ok with taking.

“I’m not going to go in next year and start parading and yelling at different guys I’m just going to go to the rink and be myself and it’s put me in a leadership role in the past so just try to stick with that and see where it takes me,” Mittelstadt said.

No matter what happens, Mittelstadt learned a lot this season and is ready to take that into next year.

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