The Buffalo Sabres have a storied history of drafting and acquiring former members of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Hudson Fasching is the latest youngster to join the Sabres after a strong collegiate career at the University of Minnesota. The Sabres acquired Fasching along with Nicolas Deslauriers in exchange for Brayden McNabb, a prospect, and a pair of second-round draft picks.
Fasching was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The youngster scored in his NHL debut with the Sabres on March 26th against the Winnipeg Jets.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 26, 2016
According to Gophersports.com, Buffalo has drafted nine players from the University of Minnesota. The Sabres have also acquired several others in trades and free agency throughout their history. Here is a look back at the hockey careers of six former members of the Buffalo Sabres organization who also played collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota.
Keith Ballard had an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Minnesota. He played for the Golden Gophers for three seasons from 2001-02 through 2003-04. During his tenure at the University of Minnesota, his club won consecutive NCAA Titles in 2002 & 2003. In 119 games Ballard tallied 33 goals, 100 points and he was a 2004 Hobey Baker finalist.
The Buffalo Sabres drafted Ballard with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. While he never played for the team, he was involved in an important trade for the franchise. In 2003, Ballard was traded by the Sabres to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Steven Reinprecht. Buffalo then traded defenseman Rhett Warrener and Reinprecht to the Calgary Flames for forwards Steve Begin and Chris Drury.
Erik Rasmussen was a standout forward at St. Louis Park High School as a youngster. In 64 games over the course of three seasons, Rasmussen scored 60 goals and 135 points. He built on this success at the University of Minnesota where he scored 31 goals and 75 points in 74 games.
Buffalo took notice of Rasmussen’s strong performance and they selected him with their seventh overall pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Unfortunately for the Sabres, Rasmussen wasn’t able to translate his offensive production at the NHL level. The forward played for the blue and gold for parts of five seasons but he managed just 33 goals and 79 points in 281 games. He later played for the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils.
Jordan Leopold is a native of Golden Valley, Minn. and he had a very successful career at the University of Minnesota. The defenseman played for the Golden Gophers from from 1998-99 through 2001-02 where he scored 45 goals and 144 points in 165 games. Leopold was a Hobey Baker nominee in 2001 when former Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was selected for the award. He was nominated again in 2002 and this time he was selected for the award.
The Anaheim Ducks selected Leopold in the second round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman played in Calgary, Colorado, Florida and Pittsburgh before arriving in Buffalo. The Sabres signed Leopold in July 2011 as an unrestricted free agent. Leopold spent three seasons in Buffalo scoring 25 goals and 67 points in 174 games. He was later traded to the St. Louis Blues for a second and a fifth round pick in 2013 which brought Justin Bailey and Anthony Florentino into the fold.
[See Also: Fasching and Nelson Making a Good First Impression by Chad DeDominicis]
Forward Dave Snuggerud spent three seasons with the University of Minnesota. Snuggerud scored 73 goals and 140 points in 126 games with the Golden Gophers. His solid play caught the eye of the Buffalo Sabres who drafted Snuggerud with second overall selection in the 1987 NHL Supplemental Draft.
Snuggerud played for the Sabres for three seasons which spanned from 1989-90 through 1991-92. During his time in Buffalo, Snuggerud tallied 26 goals and 72 points. He was traded to the San Jose Sharks in March 1992 for forward Wayne Presley. He also spent time playing for the Philadelphia Flyers before retiring from professional hockey when he was 29 years old. Since completing his NHL career, Snuggerud has worked as a teacher, coach, and trainer spending time working with current Buffalo Sabres forward Hudson Fasching.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers won their second consecutive NCAA Title during Thomas Vanek’s first season with the men’s hockey team. Vanek spent two seasons with the University of Minnesota scoring 57 goals and 113 points in 83 games. Vanek received several accolades while playing for the Golden Gophers including NCAA Tournament MVP, NCAA Rookie of the Year in 2002-03 and he was named to the NCAA West Second All-American Team in 2003-04.
The Buffalo Sabres drafted Vanek fifth overall in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Vanek played 598 games for the Sabres over the course of nine seasons scoring 254 goals and 497 points. In 2012-13, Buffalo traded Vanek to the New York Islanders and he was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens later that season. In July 2014 he signed a three year contract with the Minnesota Wild.
A native of Minneapolis, Minn., Mike Ramsey had a long and prosperous hockey career. He spent one season as a member of the men’s ice hockey team at the University of Minnesota in 1978-79 when the team won an NCAA Championship. Ramsey then went on to win gold for Team USA at the 1980 Olympic Games and he played in the infamous ‘miracle on ice’ victory over the Soviet Union.
The Sabres drafted Ramsey with the 11th overall selection in the first round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. Ramsey’s career in the NHL spanned from 1979-80 through the 1996-97 season. Ramsey spent 14 years of his career playing for the blue and gold. He played in 1070 career games scoring 79 goals and 345 points.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW