In April, we passed along word of a potential rift between the Avalanche and Will Butcher, the University of Denver d-man the Avs took at the ’13 draft.
Now, it appears the rift is real.
[Butcher] spoke about possibly attending the Avs’ prospect camp next month despite being told the NHL team is not interesting in signing him before June 2017, when he could become an unrestricted free agent following his senior season.
“I’m just going about my business at DU, being the captain next year,” Butcher said. “They’re doing their business how they want to do it. And I’m doing mine.”
Butcher, 20, 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.
This week, he was named Denver’s captain for the upcoming campaign.
Described by the Post as a “perplexing” move, Colorado’s decision to not sign Butcher comes not long after the organization bailed on almost all of its 2014 draft class.
First-rounder Conner Bleackley and third-rounder Kyle Wood never received entry-level deals, and were dealt to Arizona in the Mikkel Boedker trade. On Wednesday, per ESPN, the Avs decided not to sign fourth-rounders Nick Magyar and Alexis Pepin, meaning both can re-enter this year’s draft.
(At this point, it’s probably worth mentioning Colorado fired director of amateur scouting Rick Pracey just months after the ’14 draft. Pracey was also responsible for drafting Butcher.)
It’s unclear what’s happening within the Avs organization right now. Though Butcher isn’t very big (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), he’s done well at nearly every level he’s played at and was picked to represent the U.S. at the 2015 World Juniors — which begs the question:
Why let him walk?