The reigning Hobey Baker winner, Will Butcher declined to sign his entry level contract with the Colorado Avalanche. Instead the defenseman decided to hit the free agent market. And Butcher has decided on the team that will sign him. The New Jersey Devils have signed Butcher to a two-year, entry level deal.
#NJDevils sign Will Butcher to 2-year deal.
Will Butcher Signs With New Jersey Devils
Butcher was drafted by the Avalanche in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Since he was a prospect heading to an American college, the team would retain his draft rights for four years. But there was an up and down relationship between Butcher and the Avalanche.
The team could’ve signed Butcher to his entry level contract in 2016, but they decided against it. Previous head coach Patrick Roy had reportedly not been a fan of undersized defensemen. But the Avalanche would show heavy interest after his departure, unfortunately too little too late for Butcher.
Butcher is coming off an impressive four-year career at the University of Denver. He captained the team to a national championship this past spring. He also emerged as the top offensive defensemen in the country. His seven goals and 30 assists led the way to him capturing the Hobey Baker Award, given to the best player in college hockey.
He is the second consecutive Hobey Baker Award winner to play four years of college and decline to sign with the team who drafted him. Jimmy Vesey would do the same to the Nashville Predators last season when he declined to sign with then. He would then sign as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
Butcher showed his two-way game ability during his time with Denver. None more evident than his 37 points in 43 games this past season. His point-per-game production improved from 0.42 his freshman year to 0.86 his final season. He finishes his college career with 21 goals and 75 assists in 158 games.
The Devils are getting a defenseman eager to prove himself at the pro level. And likely one that will be ready to show his former team why they should’ve signed him first.
For Ben Kerr’s full scouting report on Butcher, take a look here.
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 7: Will Butcher #4 of the Denver Pioneers wins the 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award ceremony at the Aon Grand Ballroom on April 7, 2017 in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)