It’s official. Will Butcher has made his highly anticipated decision.
The New Jersey Devils have agreed to terms on a two-year entry-level deal with the Hobey Baker Award winner, the team announced Sunday. The deal for the 22-year-old defenseman comes with an annual average value of $925,000.
Butcher, originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, spent four years at the University of Denver. He opted not to sign with the Avalanche, becoming a free agent on Aug. 15.
This should provide a nice boost for the Devils organization after their draft pick Alex Kerfoot didn’t sign in New Jersey. He hit the open market a couple of weeks ago and — wait for it — eventually signed in Colorado.
In 43 games with Denver as a senior, Butcher recorded seven goals and 37 points. His agent, Brian Bartlett, made it clear during the free agency process that Butcher was not seeking a guaranteed roster spot in order to sign with a club. However, he should have a chance to make an impact on the Devils roster for this upcoming season.
New Jersey has been busy adding to its group of forwards, winning the draft lottery and selecting Nico Hischier and then acquiring Marcus Johansson in a trade with Washington. This signing should help bolster their blue line with the addition of a player regarded as a puck-moving defenseman with offensive upside.
Just prior to the Entry Draft in June, general manager Ray Shero acquired 2013 first-round pick and defenseman Mirco Mueller from San Jose.
So far, Mueller has yet to crack an NHL lineup on a full-time basis but that could change this upcoming season with the Devils. Shero still has work left to solidify his blue line ahead of training camp, with 23-year-old restricted free agent Damon Severson still without a contract.