Will Butcher wins 2017 Hobey Baker Award

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University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher, a 2013 draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche that remains unsigned by the team, was announced on Friday evening as the winner of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top hockey player.

Butcher beat out finalists Mike Vecchione from Union and Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese.

The 22-year-old Butcher had a monster season for Denver, finishing with 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) in 42 games, recording 22 more points than any other defenseman on the Denver team. That Denver team will play Minnesota-Duluth for the National Championship in Chicago on Saturday night.

Butcher’s status with the Avalanche has been complicated over the past year with the team indicating it would originally not offer him a contract, before reversing course in recent weeks.

Winning the Hobey Baker Award has not always translated into success at the NHL level, but that has started to change in recent seasons. The past three winners have been Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel, and New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey.