University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher is becoming a free agent, and the Chicago Blackhawks could be a great landing spot for both sides.
Tomorrow is the day that last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner, Denver defenseman Will Butcher, will officially become a free agent. Opting not to sign with the team that drafted him, the Colorado Avalanche, Butcher will have his pick of the litter in what should be 31 different teams who have reached out to offer him a contract — among them, likely, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Butcher is the next in line of a number of players who have gone the route of free agency instead of signing a contract with the team that drafted them. The Blackhawks have been tied to two of these names recently.
First, Kevin Hayes was drafted by the Blackhawks and decided not to sign with the team. He ended up signing with the New York Rangers. The winger had 49 points in 76 games a season ago.
Last summer, the Blackhawks were in the sweepstakes to try and sign Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey, but came up short. Vesey also signed with the New York Rangers. Vesey had 27 points in 80 games with the Rangers last year.
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As noted by Ryan Lambert on Yahoo! today, the talk around Butcher has been quieter than for other free agents coming out of college in recent years, but he added that every team in the league should be trying to sign the defenseman:
"“But here’s how you can look at getting a player via this method of a mid-August signing: If you could just buy another team’s draft pick off them, basically trade cash for, let’s say, a pick in the first three rounds, you would do that, right? That’s basically what you’re doing here, except instead of trading for a player you take at 18 and hope he becomes “something,” you have four (or in Vesey’s case, five) years of data about what that player can do.”"
The Blackhawks are well documented as pretty short at the blue line this coming season. If Butcher is looking to play in the NHL right away on a team that could compete, the ‘Hawks could be a really great fit. Butcher could potentially see playing time right away in Chicago, and the team always has the chance to compete with the core players that still make up the roster.
Past Hobey Baker Award winners that you may recognize include Vesey, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Matt Carle and Ryan Miller. That group has some solid NHL accomplishments, and who knows what Butcher could do.
We will update with any rumors or news on the Will Butcher front as we hear about it.