Instead of signing with the Colorado Avalanche – the team that drafted him – Will Butcher will reportedly test free agency starting on Aug. 15.
The Hobey Baker Award-winning defenseman would make sense for an array of NHL teams, really, with the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs mentioned among early considerations.
So, what about the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that’s lost some talent on the blueline and has enjoyed some success with NCAA products? Well, it remains to be seen if the defending repeat champions would be interested in Butcher’s services, but the defenseman’s agent told Josh Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they would certainly listen.
“If they happen to call,” Brian Bartlett said. “I’m sure we’d answer the phone.”
Mackey notes some of the successful college players the Penguins have deployed.
Bartlett also claims that Butcher, 22, wouldn’t demand an immediate spot on an NHL roster. That’s nice to hear … although you wonder if a team offering as much would get a better chance to land him, especially since entry-level contract limits mean that a “bidding war” would come down to what team, situation, and location he’d prefer.
Considering the possibility for a nice reward and the fairly limited risk involved, plenty of teams should be interested in Butcher. It sounds like the interest would be mutual if the Penguins were one of those suitors.
One way or another, we’ll likely learn more in a bit more than two weeks.
Update: The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports that the Detroit Red Wings are interested in Butcher, too.