Minnesota State junior defenseman Casey Nelson has signed an entry-level deal with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, forgoing his final season of college hockey.
Nelson was the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-WCHA pick after scoring 22 points in 40 games and leading MSU win plus-minus at +15.
“We’ve been consistently impressed with Casey’s play for the last two years,” Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said in a press release. “We identified him as one of the top college free agents available and we’re excited to have him join the organization.”
It's been quite a three-year run for Nelson, who was recruited late out of the North American Hockey League, accepting a scholarship from Minnesota State when he was 20 years old. The Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native played sparingly as a freshman, scoring six points in 19 games, but he exploded as a sophomore with a career-high 33 points in 40 games.
He finishes his MSU career with 60 points in 99 games, ranking 10th in scoring among the school's Division I defensemen. He was also +29 with 227 shots on goal and 127 blocked shots.
"He's shown where a young man can go when he puts his mind to it," MSU coach Mike Hastings said.