Highly regarded collegiate defenseman Will Butcher has decided to let time run out with the Colorado Avalanche and is considering the Golden Knights as a place to continue his career.
The deadline for drafted college players to sign an entry-level contract with the NHL team that selected them was Tuesday. According to his Boston-based agent, Brian Bartlett, Butcher will not sign with the Avalanche, which drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 entry draft and held his rights for four years.
“We anticipate talking to several teams in the next couple of days,” Bartlett said Tuesday. “I would think a lot of teams would be interested in a young, puck-moving defenseman. Ultimately, it’s about finding the best situation for Will to continue his hockey career.”
With his draft rights lapsing, Butcher becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In addition to the Knights, Butcher, 22, reportedly plans to speak with the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres. The Denver Post was the first to report Butcher’s plans.
Butcher captained the University of Denver and helpedthe Pioneers to the NCAA championship in April. A left-handed shot, he scored seven goals and had 30 assists this past season. He was selected as college hockey’s best player in winning the Hobey Baker in April.
Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said the team would pursue any NCAA free agent if that player could help the team. The Knights have 42 players currently under contract. The NHL maximum is 50.
Bartlett said he has been doing his homework on Las Vegas and whether playing for the Knights would be a good fit. One of his other clients is Knights forward Alex Tuch, and he said his two clients will talk about the Knights.
“Alex has had a taste of life there when he was at the development camp,” Bartlett said of Tuch. “He loves it there.”
Bartlett said he believes Butcher has visited Las Vegas at least once. But he has not been beyond the Strip.
“I was telling Will there’s more to Vegas than just the Strip,” he said. “There are a lot of positives to playing there. The biggest is you’re part of something new and you’re getting in on the ground floor, which is interesting.
“They’ve got a lot of defensemen, but they probably need some defensemen who aren’t 28 years old.”
Bartlett said he anticipates the process for Butcher to decide on where to play won’t be a dragged-out process..
“Will’s going to be on a number of conference calls Wednesday, and if there’s an opportunity that’s compelling, we’ll pursue it,” Bartlett said. “I think with talking to the teams and visiting a couple of the cities, it will take about a week to get it done.”
Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.