DENVER, CO—Will Butcher, 22, defenseman for the University of Denver (DU) Pioneers, is set to choose an NHL team with whom he will sign with on Sunday, August 27.
Appointed the best player in the NCAA Division I men’s hockey, Butcher won the Hobey Baker Award in 2017. He is the second Denver player to win the award since Matt Carle in 2006. Additionally, he is the first defenseman take home the award since the 2009 recipient, Boston University’s Matt Gilroy.
Brian Barlett, Butcher’s agent, disclosed that the 5 foot and 11 inch tall, 175-pound skater has been participating at DU’s pro camp and has not been able to discuss signing matters with his family. As of August 16, he is an unrestricted free agent. Among teams who have been looking to sign Butcher are the Buffalo Sabres, Vegas Golden Knights, and reportedly the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New Jersey Devils.
“He wants to play for team that really understands and believes in him as a player and what he can bring to an organization, so it’s weeding out the ones who just kind of want good players since every team needs good players. The second part is which team has the opportunity and resources to give him the best chance to be a longtime professional player. We haven’t been demanding he make the team right out of [training] camp or have a roster spot. It’s about the process over the next couple of years,” Barlett said of the defenseman’s decision process.
Hailing from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Butcher served as the Pioneers’ captain this past season. He appeared in 43 games and collected 37 points (seven goals and 30 assists). The Colorado Avalanche selected Butcher 123rd overall at the 2013 draft, though he decided against signing with them and opted to play at the collegiate level with DU.
In his four-year college career, he totaled 103 points (28 goals and 75 assists) and had 53 penalty minutes in 158 games. Before DU, he played in the USHL for the Dubuque Fighting Saints (2010-2011) and the U.S. National Development Team (2011-2013).