There’s plenty to like about University of Denver junior Will Butcher.
He was one of the top defenseman scorers in the country this season, with 32 points in 39 games, and was named a Second-Team (West) All-American.
What’s more, Butcher — Colorado’s fifth-round pick in 2013 — is regarded as one of the organization’s top prospects, per ESPN.
So how to explain this, from the Denver Post?
Butcher will remain at DU for his senior season. He might be more likely to have his rights traded or become a free agent in 2017 than sign with the Avalanche.
Just have to sit back and see how this one plays out, but the 5-foot-10 Butcher is certainly an excellent NCAA defenseman.
The concern about players going back to school for their senior campaigns is that, once they’ve finished, they’re eligible to go to unrestricted free agency.
(Like what happened between the Nashville Predators and Jimmy Vesey.)
In the same article — titled “Avalanche signs one All-American but might pass on the second” — the Post said there would be more on the Butcher story in Sunday’s paper, while posting this tweet from College Hockey News:
It’s probably worth noting Butcher, now 21, was from one of the last draft classes of the Rick Pracey era. Pracey, Colorado’s longtime scouting chief that was turfed in 2014, didn’t exactly go out on the greatest of terms.
Colorado’s first-round pick in ’14, Connor Bleackley, was widely panned before getting dealt to Arizona in the Mikkel Boedker trade. The other piece of the Boedker trade — Kyle Wood, taken in the same year as Bleackley — was sent packing in part because the Avs had yet to sign him to an ELC.
At the Frozen Four, Butcher discussed his status with the Avs in a Q&A with Hockey’s Futures. He said the proximity between DU and the NHL club made it easy for the Avs to monitor him, and that he was in frequent contact with player development consultant Brett Clark.
When asked about where he saw himself slotting in with the Avs, Butcher had this to say:
“I think the Avs have got some deep prospects on their blueline, so there’s definitely going to be some competition there. But I haven’t really focused on that because I’m just focused on the Frozen Four right now.”