College free agent defenseman Will Butcher emailed NHL.com’s Mike Morreale to say that he’ll announce his team of choice on Sunday.
The number of teams generating legitimate interest is a matter of some debate and conjecture.
Brian Bartlett (Butcher’s agent) told Morreale that the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights are among “as many as four teams in the mix.” Meanwhile, the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers puts the number at 10, mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils while also including the Sabres and Golden Knights.
Chambers notes that Butcher, 22, was seen carrying a Sabres bag:
More than anything else, that indicates that Butcher likely met with Sabres brass recently. Bartlett indicated that Butcher is squeezing in visits before he makes his decision.
Frankly, for all we know, getting that face-to-face time could conceivably drag this out a bit longer. It’s not like Butcher is contractually obligated to make that choice by Sunday, after all.
Bartlett provided Morreale with some interesting insight into the process, echoing earlier stories about Butcher not necessarily demanding an NHL roster spot off the bat.
“He wants to play for a team that really understands and believes in him as a player and what he can bring to an organization, so it’s weeding out the ones who just kind of want good players since every team needs good players,” Bartlett said. “The second part is which team has the opportunity and resources to give him the best chance to be a longtime professional player. We haven’t been demanding he make the team right out of [training] camp or have a roster spot. It’s about the process over the next couple of years.”
Assuming Butcher can make that call by Sunday, it will be an exciting moment for those desperate to hear some interesting hockey news. On another note, getting closure could be welcome by those who are exasperated to hear so much hype about a defenseman who has yet to play a single shift in the NHL.