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Gophers Hockey: Casey Mittelstadt returning to Eden Prairie over accelerating

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Projected to be one of the top 2017 NHL Draft picks, Mittelstadt could have accelerated to play college hockey at Minnesota in 2016-17.

Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

To take the words of another Eden Prairie forward that went on to play college hockey at Minnesota, Casey Mittelstadt sounds like he has "unfinished business."

Mittelstadt announced Tuesday via Twitter that he will be returning to Eden Prairie for his senior season to try and win the Minnesota Class AA high school championship which eluded the Eagles in March.

Currently projected to be one of the top 2017 NHL Draft picks, Mittetlstadt, a late 1998 birthday, had much of the year to try and accelerate his school in order to play college hockey at Minnesota this upcoming season.

Instead, he will be not be campus until 2017-18.

Eden Prairie finished second in Class AA this past year, losing 5-3 to Wayzata in the championship. Mittetlstadt, who was the Eagles' leading scorer as a junior, led all players with 12 points (5G-7A) in 3 state tournament games. The taste of finishing second, as he told Jason Gonzalez of the Minneapolis Star Tribune last month, would be one thing keeping him back at Eden Prairie for his senior season like Kyle Rau and Nick Leddy.

Mittelstadt also spent parts of this year playing for the US Under-18 team. Filling in when injuries precluded Team USA from having a full lineup, the Eden Prairie native made the most of the opportunity. He ended up being one of three non-USNTDP players, and the youngest forward, on this year's U-18 World Juniors roster.

Mittelstadt finished with 9 points (4G-5A) in 7 games (including this snipe). Our own Chris Dilks covered the tournament, writing this on Mittelstadt as part of an article on the top 2017 NHL Draft picks at the U-18 World Juniors.

Casey Mittelstadt, Forward, United States, 5'11" 201 lbs., 11/22/98

Mittelstadt has struggled a bit in his transition from being a big fish in a small pond to swimming with a lot of big fish at the international level, but has still shown flashes of why he's such a valued future prospect. Mittelstadt has a quick first step and very quick hands, and when he gets some space, he's a deadly finisher. He's not quite there yet, but he has the potential to be a high-scoring winger at the NHL level.

By returning for his senior season Mittelstadt becomes the favorite to win the 2017 Minnesota Mr. Hockey. He committed to Minnesota in September 2014 when he was one of the top bantam players in the state.

Green Bay holds his USHL rights.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --