The Will Butcher sweepstakes began today, and there are already a few interested suitors lined up.
Per the Denver Post, Butcher — the Denver University product that captured this year’s Hobey Baker — has officially balked on signing with the team that drafted him, the Colorado Avalanche, and will begin talking to various NHL clubs.
Teams that are expected to pursue the now-free agent include New Jersey, Buffalo and the expansion Golden Knights, per the Post.
Butcher, 22, is coming off a terrific senior campaign with the Pioneers. He captained the school to an NCAA title while emerging as the top offensive d-man in the country. The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder racked up seven goals and 37 points in 43 games.
Originally taken in the fifth round of the ’13 draft by Colorado, Butcher has gone through a number of up and downs with the organization. At first, the Avs reportedly had no interest in signing him to a pro contract, only for GM Joe Sakic to pull a 180 and say the team wanted him.
Butcher responded by saying he didn’t want the Avs to make him an offer.