Photo credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The New Jersey Devils announced today that they have officially signed 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner and former University of Denver captain Will Butcher to a two-year entry-level contract. Butcher’s signing officially ends a drawn-out saga that saw the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, lose out on the prized defenseman prospect.
A few weeks ago, it was revealed that Butcher would decide to test free agency rather than sign with the Avs and almost immediately, the Devils emerged as one of the front-runners to land the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin native.
After four standout years with the Pioneers, it was completely understandable that Butcher would test free agency and land the best deal with the best situation for himself. Of course, Avs fans are disappointed to see him land somewhere other than Colorado, but this was certainly a difficult decision and it’s good to see him make the best decision for his career.
Butcher’s signing with the Devils marks the second straight year that the reigning Hobey Baker winner decided against signing with the team that drafted him after former Harvard standout Jimmy Vesey signed with the New York Rangers over the Nashville Predators. This may be a growing trend among standout college players who stay in school for all four years. The Avalanche signed two college free agents in former Minnesota Duluth and Harvard captains Dominic Toninato and Alex Kerfoot. Toninato was originally drafted by Toronto and Kerfoot, in an interesting twist of fate, was drafted by New Jersey.
Butcher surely has a bright future ahead of him and all DU Hockey fans certainly wish him the best as he embarks on his professional career with the Devils organization. LetsGoDU definitely does!