Former NAHL and Johnstown dman Nelson signs NHL deal
March 22, 2016
The National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres have announced that they have signed Minnesota State junior defenseman Casey Nelson to an NHL entry-level free agent contract.
Nelson spent three years in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) (split between Johnstown and Alaska) prior to joining the Mavericks. Nelson played most recently in the NAHL for the Johnstown Tomahawks during the 2012-13 season. During that inaugral season in Johnstown, Nelson had 32 points in 56 games played. In the two years prior, Nelson played for the Alaska Avalanche from 2010-12. Overall in his three-year NAHL career, Nelson appeared in 141 career games and had 32 points.
Nelson also played in the 2013 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the Great Lakes team.
“I couldn’t be happier for Casey on such an unbelievable accomplishment. I was very fortunate to work with him during our first season, and you could see the type of outstanding player he was during that year. It’s a special day for the Tomahawks to see such a great alumnus, but more importantly, a fantastic person, achieve a dream like this,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia.
Nelson, 23, a three-year letterwinner with Minnesota State, earned several accolades for his play in 2015-16 including Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCHA First Team honors.
A native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Nelson registered six goals and 16 assists for 22 points in 40 games to rank fourth on the team scoring chart this year while leading the Mavericks in plus/minus (+15) and ranking second in assists (16).
A Two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week during course of this season, Nelson collected 7-26--33 to rank third on team in points last year while establishing a school mark for most points in a season by a defenseman (NCAA DI-era). He was a 2014-15 All-WCHA Second Team pick and was named to the WCHA All-Academic team in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
His 60 career points on 14 goals and 46 assists in 99 career games ranks tenth on the school's all-time scoring by defensmen list (DI-era). Nelson finished this three years with the Mavericks with a +29 rating, along with 227 shots on goal and 127 blocked shots.