Will Butcher has made his decision and he has signed with the New Jersey Devils. The defenceman signed a two-year entry level deal with the Devils on Sunday.
The former NCAA free agent and Hobey Baker Award winner was the subject of speculation over the weekend. He spoke with at least five NHL teams over the past week, with as many as four teams on his potential go-to list. Other clubs reported to have his interest were the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights.
The 22-year-old was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, going 123rd overall. The team couldn’t sign the blueliner, however, and the window of opportunity expired.
“He wanted to test the market and that is his right and decision,” the Avalanche said in a statement.
The case of Will Butcher has reminded many of the case of Jimmy Vesey, another Hobey Baker Award winner who tested free agency at the conclusion of his college career.
Butcher spent the last four seasons with the University of Denver, where he led the club to a national championship in 2016-2017. He scooped the Hobey Baker after scoring seven goals for a total of 37 points last season.
The book on Butcher is that he’s a solid two-way defenceman with good game smarts. He can play the point on the power play, which will help the Devils immensely. He’s also got slick offensive capabilities and should be able to come up with some points.
New Jersey is a little thin on the blueline, at least when it comes to offensive defencemen. Butcher will be a great fit for the team and he’ll help boost a group that includes Damon Severson, John Moore and Andy Greene.
Butcher, just the seventh defenceman to win the Hobey Baker Award, had 28 goals and 75 assists in 158 games for the University of Denver.