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Rookie Fasching gets a crash course with Sabres

Hudson Fasching is an entrepreneurial management major at the University of Minnesota. Some of the classes include Analysis and Modeling for Business Systems Development, Corporate Risk Management and Law of Contracts and Agency.

Now he’s getting a crash course in Sabres 101. If he does as well in that as he does in his college classes, he’ll jump right into the lineup.

Fasching practiced in Buffalo for the first time Thursday, and his size and skill appeared ready for the NHL. He has a lot to learn, however, so coach Dan Bylsma wants to see the right winger one more time before deciding if Fasching will play Saturday when the Sabres host Winnipeg.

“I’ve been learning systems rapidly over the last couple of days,” Fasching said in First Niagara Center. “I’m trying to soak it all in right now, everything from systems to where to put my dirty laundry. It’s just learning everything, all the little details and just getting in a new routine.”

Between drills, Sabres coaches pulled Fasching and fellow signee Casey Nelson aside for additional instruction and tips. Thankfully for the fans hoping to see Fasching right away, the 20-year-old is a fast learner. He is set to graduate in May, which means he’ll get his four-year degree in only three years.

He’s still taking a few classes, but Sabremetrics is the No. 1 priority for the next couple of weeks.

“Everything’s a step up here,” Fasching said. “It’s another level. It’s another speed. It’s quality. Everything’s new and everything’s just different.”

Fasching felt he was ready to graduate to the NHL after an impressive junior season at Minnesota. He recorded 20 goals and 38 points in 37 games, but it was the way he reached the score sheet that convinced him to forgo his senior year.

“The scoring touch came on for me a lot this year,” said the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder. “I was able to score in different ways, too. My freshman and sophomore year was a lot of rebounds, a lot of stuff plays, a lot of easy goals in some people’s eyes.

“This year, I had a couple one-timers, I had shots, I made plays on the rush. I was able to diversify my game a bit, earned a lot of ice time in different roles.”

The Sabres see him as a throwback power forward. Bylsma foresees Fasching growing into a Keith Tkachuk or Rick Tocchet if he develops correctly.

“You don’t see that big power forward as much in the game as you saw before,” Bylsma said. “A power forward, a presence at the net, we don’t have a lot of that in the game, and that’s where Hudson has a niche and could go with his game.”

Fasching practiced in a fourth-line quartet with left wing Matt Moulson and centers Cal O’Reilly and David Legwand. Fasching’s placement during Friday’s practice should better foretell if and where he plays against the Jets.

He’s thrilled just to skate with NHL players, let alone play against them.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “It’s still a little surreal, but it’s starting to sink in a little more. First day on the ice with all the guys it hits you a little bit more. It’s still a dream come true.”

While Fasching has plenty to learn on the ice – coaches showed him how to chip pucks into the offensive zone, where to line up in the defensive zone – he at least knew a few players off the ice. He attended Sabres development camp with Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe. It was nice to be able to say, “How’s it going?” rather than “Nice to meet you” in a few instances.

Nelson, however, didn’t know anyone. In fact, he didn’t know the basics.

“I didn’t even know how to spell ‘Sabres’ right away,” he said. “I had to look it up.”

The defenseman and his agent just knew Buffalo wanted him and would use him. After a 22-point, plus-15 rating as a senior at Minnesota State, Nelson signed a one-year deal worth the rookie maximum of $925,000. The contracts of Nelson and Fasching will kick in after one appearance.

The 23-year-old is a self-described late bloomer.

“I kind of had to fight my way through each step here, and I’m excited for this one,” Nelson said. “I know it’s a team on the rise, and I’m excited about that.”


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