Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nelson gets extension from Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Casey Nelson to a two-year contract extension, the team announced on Wednesday.

Nelson made his NHL debut in March last season after signing a one-year deal with Buffalo shortly after completing his college career at Minnesota State. He had four assists in seven games with the Sabres.

According to The Buffalo News, Nelson will make $650,000 annually.

The 23-year-old will have an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Sabres roster this season, according to an Associated Press story.

In college, the 6-foot-2, 183-pound Nelson was the WCHA’s defensive player of the year last season. Overall, the Wisconsin native had 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points in 99 career college games.

After the Mavericks’ season ended, Nelson joined the Sabres and played seven games before the end of the NHL’s regular season. He had four assists, eight penalty minutes and was plus-1.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MSU players head to NHL camps

Three Minnesota State men's hockey players, including one undrafted player, have received invitations to participate in NHL developmental camps this summer.

The group includes forwards Zach Stepan and C.J. Franklin, who will skate for the teams that drafted them, the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, respectively. Defenseman Daniel Brickley has been invited to attend the Buffalo Sabres' camp.

Stepan, who will be a senior, was selected by the Predators in the 2012 draft and Franklin, a junior, went to the Jets in 2014. Brickley will be a sophomore.

Nashville's camp began Tuesday and runs through Saturday. Winnipeg's camp runs Sunday through July 7. Buffalo's camp goes July 6-12.

Dylan Margonari, who recently wrapped up his MSU career, will attend the Washington Capitals' camp as an undrafted free agent.

Speaking of former Mavericks, 10-year NHL veteran David Backes will be a free agent starting Friday. Read my Free Press column on him and where I think he should play next if it's not with his current team, the St. Louis Blues.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mavericks land D recruit

On Thursday, Minnesota State received a commitment from Tri-City Storm (USHL) defenseman Jack McNeely.
McNeely is a 6-foot-3, 178-pound D from Burnsville via Lakeville North High School where he helped his team go 31-0 and win a state championship in 2015. He was previously committed to Nebraska Omaha, and his brother, Matt, was a goalie at Minnesota Duluth. It appears he will be returning to Tri-City for another season.

This year, his first full season in the USHL, he had eight assists in 59 games and another two helpers in 11 playoff games as the Storm won the Clark Cup championship.

The Storm also have another future MSU player on the roster, defenseman Jason Krych.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Carter seeks second Stanley Cup

Shane Frederick photo
Ryan Carter was in New Ulm on Wednesday as part of the Minnesota Wild Road Tour. The Wild forward and former Mavericks player (2004-2006) joined former Wild player Keith Ballard and play-by-play man Anthony LaPanta, and they signed autographs for an hour straight. It was a nice turnout at the New Ulm Civic Center with a steady stream of hockey fans going through the line.

Carter will be a free agent on July 1, and it will be interesting to see if he returns to the Wild, the team he's played with for the last two seasons, or if he ends up else where. His goal, he said, is to win a Stanley Cup "the old-fashioned way."

If you recall, he won one with the Anaheim Ducks during his first year of pro hockey. He grinded out the season in the minor leagues before getting called up for the playoffs. He played in four games, including less than 3 minutes of ice time during the Finals. That was enough to get his name on the Cup and his day with the trophy. But, now 32, he'd like to win one by helping a team from training camp on through the postseason.

He came close a few years ago with the New Jersey Devils; will he get another shot?

Please read my entire Free Press story about Carter here.

I also spoke to Ballard for a few minutes. The former Gopher played junior hockey for Mike Hastings in Omaha in 2000-01 and has fond memories of playing for the current MSU coach. It was challenging at times, he admitted, but the Lancers won a national title at the end of of the year.

Also, New Ulm had several stations for hockey fans to go through before meeting the Wild group. One of those was the new junior hockey team in town, the New Ulm Steel. The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3, for short) team, which moved to southern Minnesota from the Twin Cities, will be the subject of a Sunday Free Press story. Stay tuned ...