Casey Mittelstadt was thrown right into the mix his first day on the job, leading the stretches at the beginning and end of practice with the Sabres on Wednesday.
“I just said thanks for the warm welcome and it was a good first practice,” Mittelstadt said of his chat with teammates at center ice as practice ended.
The rookie slotted right into the second line, centering Evan Rodrigues and Sam Reinhart, with a chance to get his legs under him before making his debut Thursday night.
"It was fun," the rookie said. "They're new guys for me and I'm new for them. Being linemates it kind of gives you a gateway to know each other. I'll see if we can develop some chemistry and make some plays."
"He looked excited to be out there and being a part of the team," Head Coach Phil Housley said with a grin after practice. "He had a little hop to his step today. I thought he got through practice pretty well."
Mittelstadt also saw action on the second power play unit, but as for his own expectations, he says he's not really placing any on himself.
"I haven't played a game in a while so I'm going to try to go out and try to get settled in the pro game here and be able to make some plays," he said. "Just try to play and see how it goes.
"Once the game gets closer I'll get a little nervous, a little antsy to get out there and get it going. For the most part, I felt good today, I feel like I belong. I'm not too nervous."
"If he plays with the speed he's capable of I think that'll open up that much more for him," linemate Sam Reinhart added. "The quicker you're able to do that, open it up for yourself the confidence starts to grow."
"The simplicity with the game, just keeping things simple," Housley said of what he expects when Mittelstadt makes his NHL debut Thursday. "His instincts will take over. You can see he has a really good hockey sense out there and is comfortable out there right now."