A trio of former Minnesota State Mavericks are starting the 2016-17 season on National Hockey League rosters.
Forward David Backes, who played for the Mavericks from 2003-06 and tallied 46 goals and 73 assists for 119 points in 115 games as a collegian, is starting his first year with Boston after signing a free agent deal with the Bruins during the summer. The former Maverick captain, who was recently inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, tallied 206 goals and 254 assists for 460 points in 727 games played with St. Louis in an NHL career that started in 2006 with the Blues.
Former Maverick forward Tyler Pitlick, who had 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 38 games during his only season with Minnesota State in 2009-10, is in his sixth year as a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization and although he has three goals in 27 games as an NHLer in a professional career that began in 2011-12, for the first time is starting the year with the big club.
Defenseman Casey Nelson, last year’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year, is starting the 2016-17 campaign on Buffalo’s opening day roster. Nelson, who signed as a free agent with the Sabres following the conclusion of Minnesota State’s season last March and made his NHL debut the following weekend, had 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points in 99 games in his three seasons with the Mavericks.