BUFFALO – In a way, Sabres winger Hudson Fasching is grateful for the groin injury he suffered early last season. No, the prospect isn’t happy a three-month absence derailed his promising rookie campaign.
But Fasching, 22, believes handling his first significant injury toughened him up.
“It was a learning year, learning experience,” Fasching said Friday prior to the Sabres’ 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in the opener of the Prospects Challenge rookie tournament. “I think mentally I’m a lot stronger for it. I’m grateful for it from that perspective.”
It’s easy to forget, but Fasching, thanks to his strong attention to details, made the Sabres out of training camp last year. The University of Minnesota product played six games before getting injured Oct. 30 in Winnipeg.
Still, he was healthy enough the Sabres assigned him to the AHL after a short absence. His groin, however, couldn’t hold up with the Rochester Americans. He left the lineup Nov. 11.
When the 6-foot-2, 209-pound power forward finally returned Feb. 11, he was a step behind.
“It took me a while, probably a month or two after I was playing again, that I really felt normal and felt in the swing of things,” Fasching said inside HarborCenter. “It wasn’t necessarily I was so bad or anything. I came back in the middle of the season. Everybody’s in mid-season shape.”
Fasching, meanwhile, was basically beginning a new season. He believes acclimating to game action after his groin healed was more difficult than recovering from the injury.
“Being injured was alright,” he said. “Honestly, I did pretty well with it. It was just (hard) coming back and being a step behind and not being where I wanted to be.”
Fasching finished with eight goals and 12 points in 37 AHL appearances.
Given he left the Sabres 10 months ago and only returned for four games in March, Fasching has become a bit of an overlooked prospect. As he sat out and recovered, forwards Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Alexander Nylander all received NHL looks.
Right now, he’s battling those those youngsters for an NHL roster spot.
Fasching, of course, knows he should stand out in a prospects game like tonight’s. He already has 17 games of NHL experience – he played seven contests late in 2015-16 after leaving school – and spent three years at a major NCAA program.
“I want to come out and just kind of take over,” he said. “I want to be physically dominating things out there, take over the game as best I can.”
That physicality was a major reason former general manager Tim Murray traded two second-round picks and defenseman Brayden McNabb to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 for Fasching and winger Nick Deslauriers. Murray, who was fired April 20, had a big investment in Fasching.
But Fasching hasn’t lost any comfort with new GM Jason Botterill’s regime running things.
“Last year was kind of a year that was all over the place, so for me to have a fresh start again is not the worst thing in the world,” he said.
Notes: Center Colin Blackwell, a last-minute camp invite, scored two goals for the Sabres. “I’m a little smaller (5-foot-9) than some of the guys out there, but I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder,” Blackwell said. “I play a little bit heavier game.” Blackwell played for the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate last season … Cliff Pu had the other goal. Fasching had an assist. Michael Kapla scored the overtime winner. … The Sabres play the Boston Bruins tonight.