The Sabres will begin talks with Hudson Fasching as soon as Sunday, and one of the team's top prospects could be wearing a Buffalo uniform this week.
Fasching, a right winger ranked as the organization’s No. 2 prospect by the Hockey News, completed his junior season with the University of Minnesota on Saturday night. He is open to leaving college after tying for first on the team with 20 goals and finishing second with 38 points in 37 games.
The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder seems like an ideal fit for a team in need of a winger with a scoring touch. Sam Reinhart (20 goals) and Evander Kane (19) are the only wingers with more than 10 goals.
Fasching was part of the first real “hockey trade” (a deal that didn’t involve pending free agents) made by the Sabres’ Tim Murray in 2014, and the general manager has expressed interest in bringing Fasching into the organization as soon as possible.
To persuade the 20-year-old to leave school, the Sabres would likely have to promise an immediate spot in the NHL. Buffalo has nine games left, and the outings would give Fasching important on-the-job training that he could take into the summer. He would learn where he needs to get better and could pinpoint those areas during offseason training.
The downside for the Sabres is Fasching would burn off a year of his contract with only nine games, meaning he would become a restricted free agent faster than if the team waited until the summer.
The bonus for Buffalo is it can sign Fasching to a three-year entry-level contract. Because of their age, most college players are only eligible for a two-year deal. Fasching started with the Golden Gophers as a true freshman, so even burning a year would leave him even with most college signees.
Buffalo acquired Fasching from Los Angeles along with Nicolas Deslauriers in exchange for defenseman Brayden McNabb, forward Jonathan Parker and two second-round draft picks. The Kings selected Fasching in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Fasching played with Sabres center Jack Eichel on the 2012-13 U.S. National Development Team. In three years at Minnesota, Fasching has 46 goals and 94 points in 115 games.