Butcher passes on Sabres; signs with Devils

August 27, 2017
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2017 Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher has made a decision on his NHL future, and it is not with the Buffalo Sabres.

After nearly two weeks of free agent discussions and visits with up to a dozen teams, the 22-year old defenseman has signed a two-year entry-level deal with the New Jersey Devils.

It was reported that it was down to three to four teams in the running to sign the puck-moving, left-handed defenseman. Along with the Devils and Sabres, it was speculated that the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings were the other two teams in consideration.

Butcher was and original draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Wisconsin native put up 37 points (seven goals and 30 assists) in 43 games in his senior season with the University of Denver, and helped lead the Pioneers to a NCAA Division-I men's ice hockey championship in April. After four years at Denver and 103 career points in 158 games, Butcher officially went to unrestricted free agency at midnight on August 16th.

With the Devils, Butcher will likely have a shot to make the NHL roster starting opening night. If not, he will be one of their top defensive prospects playing in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Devils.

If Butcher had signed with the Sabres, he likely would have started in the AHL with the Rochester Americans playing behind a defenseman like Brendan Guhle. He would be the sixth left-handed defenseman on the depth chart in Buffalo, and his chances of playing in the NHL will likely be sooner with the Devils than the Sabres.

For what Butcher wanted in his new contract, the Devils were logically the perfect fit.

Butcher and the Devils will be in Buffalo from September 8th through the 11th as the Sabres host their annual Prospects Challenge from the HarborCenter. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins will also be in town for the tournament.