Will Butcher, the 2017 Hobey Baker Award-winning defenseman from the University of Denver, has signed an NHL entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils. The 2013 Avalanche fifth-round draft pick, who turned down Colorado’s offer and became an unrestricted free agent Aug. 16, announced his decision to sign with the Devils on Sunday.
Butcher, who served as DU’s captain last season as a senior, also considered the Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Ten teams in the NHL showed interest in the 5-foot-10, 190-pound, puck-moving defenseman from Madison, Wis.
Butcher, 22, is the second consecutive Hobey Baker Award winner to play four years in college and become a free agent after rejecting the offer made by the team that drafted him. Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey, a 2012 draft pick of the Nashville Predators, signed with the New York Rangers on Aug. 19, 2016.
NHL teams have four years to sign their college draftees, or by Aug. 15 of the year they leave school. The rule may change in the next collective bargaining agreement because it could discourage teams from drafting college players.Source: denverpost