Free agent Will Butcher picks Devils over Golden Knights
Will Butcher, a prized free-agent defenseman from the University of Denver, signed with the New Jersey Devils on Sunday after considering the Golden Knights.
August 27, 2017 - 4:35 pm
Updated August 27, 2017 - 5:14 pm
The Golden Knights came up short in the Will Butcher sweepstakes.
Butcher, a prized free-agent defenseman from the University of Denver, signed with the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
Butcher received a two-year, entry-level contract worth $1.85 million after drawing interest from multiple NHL teams. He visited with the Knights on Tuesday and reportedly also met with the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings.
Butcher, 22, won the Hobey Baker Award — college hockey’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy — and captained Denver to the national championship as a senior.
He was drafted by Colorado in the fifth round in 2013, but did not sign with the Avalanche following his senior season and became an unrestricted free agent Aug. 16.
More than a dozen teams reportedly expressed interest in Butcher before he narrowed his list of finalists last week.
Butcher’s free-agent saga played out for the past several days and even drew a subtweet from Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky, who was critical of the process for signing college free agents.
The college free agency situation in the @NHL needs to be figured out…it's a joke especially to the guys that play major junior
— Brandon Dubinsky (@BDubi17) August 25, 2017
Butcher had 37 points in 43 games in his final collegiate season and would have provided the Golden Knights an offensive-minded puck mover along the blue line.
In New Jersey, he could immediately challenge for playing time with a team that has missed the playoffs the past five seasons.
Despite missing out on Butcher, the Knights have a surplus of defenseman and will face several tough roster decisions when training camp begins Sept. 14.
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Contact David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.
Will Butcher file
Height/weight: 5-10, 190
Hometown: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
College: University of Denver
2016-17 stats: 43 games, seven goals, 30 assists, 37 points
Honors: Team captain 2016-17; assistant captain 2015-16; Hobey Baker Award winner 2017
Accomplishments: Won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Championship
Favorite athletes: Rafael Nadal, Bubba Watson, Mike Modano
Hobbies: Fishing, hunting, hiking, movies