UMD sophomore defenseman Chris Casto has decided to take his talents to the professional ranks.
The 6-3 Stillwater native will be or has signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Bruins. The undrafted Casto spent two seasons at UMD, playing 77 games and logging some big minutes over that time. Casto scored five goals and totaled 22 points as a Bulldog.
Monday night, Casto announced his departure on Twitter, saying "I would like to thank my teammates, the Bulldogs organization, and Duluth for my time here. It has truly been an honor to be a Bulldog."
Casto had obvious value when he arrived at UMD, almost immediately showing himself as a guy who could play in all situations. There were some struggles in his sophomore season, but he also showed the offensive bend to his game on a few occasions. There were a couple games where he was as aggressive at going to the net as some of UMD's forwards were. That's not necessarily a good thing when it happens a lot, but it was nice to see Casto jumping up in the play.
In the end, I'm not sure five goals in 77 games was the offensive output he was hoping for, but he never really got a chance to run UMD's top power play unit, what with Brady Lamb last year and Andy Welinski this year.
I don't know that it's been announced, but one would expect Casto to be assigned to the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence. Dunkin Donuts for everyone!
As for UMD, it's not a shocking departure, but it's an early one. The recruiting class currently has two defensemen, Canadian Carson Soucy and Eden Prairie native Dan Molenaar. UMD likely will pursue one more defenseman for the 2013-14 recruiting class, giving the Bulldogs eight on the roster.
Options include recruiting a currently uncommitted player from the junior ranks, or bringing in a committed player from a future class early. If the latter is the choice, the best bet is that Shattuck-St. Mary's defenseman Willie Raskob would come in this year. Another choice would be Blake Heinrich, who made a name for himself at Hill-Murray and played last season with Sioux City (USHL).
Either way, we wish Casto the best of luck as he moves on in his career. Remember, the better he does, the more it makes UMD look good, as a place guys can come, get better, and get a chance to get paid to play hockey.