Erik Rasmussen will be back on the Gophers hockey roster for at least one more season, his father said Monday.
Rasmussen, who is in Lake Placid, N.Y., practicing for the U.S. World Junior team, will pass up a $1 million-plus bonus to sign with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
The sophomore forward's stellar rookie campaign inspired the Sabres to select him with the seventh overall pick in June's NHL draft. Rasmussen, a native of St. Louis Park, was the first U.S. player chosen.
Playing time and maturity were two factors in Rasmussen's decision to return to Minnesota. He said he wants to develop his skills before he takes on the pros and that he's not interested in starting at the minor league level.
Under the advice of some close friends and hockey personnel, the Rasmussen family has recently taken out an insurance policy to protect Erik financially in case he is injured before playing in the pros. But contrary to other newspaper reports, Rasmussen's father, Don, said it is not a million-dollar policy.
"It is a 24-hour policy that covers Erik on and off the ice -- that's all," Don said.
Rasmussen's decision to stay at the University will boost the Gophers' chances at making another national title run.
"He brings a lot to the team, and if we lost him, there would be some big shoes to fill," said junior co-captain Mike Crowley.
Rasmussen will likely keep his starting position at right wing this fall. Last year, he was third on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 32 assists for 48 total points, and he was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team.