Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Bucher is heading to the Frozen Four with his Denver University Pioneers. After that, though, his hockey future is up in the air.
There has been some doubt about whether the Colorado Avalanche will offer a contract to defenseman Will Butcher. His NCAA career is over after this season with the Denver University Pioneers.
The Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Will Butcher 123rd overall in the 2013 draft. The Avalanche and Butcher have until August 15, 2017, to reach a contractual agreement. After that, Will becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Discrepancy About Contractual Reporting
Last summer Denver Post writer Mike Chambers wrote an article titled “Despite being shunned by the Avalanche, Will Butcher hopes to attend the team’s prospects camp.” In the article Chambers remarked that Butcher had been told, “The NHL team is not interesting in signing him before June 2017, when he could become an unrestricted free agent following his senior season.”
Note: According to the CBA, August 15 is the date for graduating NCAA players.
However, in the last couple weeks as Butcher kills it in the NCAA tournament, there have been questions about whether the Colorado Avalanche would indeed offer him a contract.
Indeed, Avalanche insider Adrian Dater wrote that his new site, BSN Avalanche, has learned that Colorado will offer him a contract.
Now, the reason for the discrepancy is unclear. BSN Avalanche writer Cheryl Bradley was tweeting with Adrian Dater about the discrepancy, and I asked why Chambers had written that he wasn’t being signed. Here is her answer:
Now, to be fair, BSN was started with the understanding that they’d be a Colorado sports news outlet independent of reporting in mainstream media — specifically the Denver Post.
Will Butcher’s Impressive Play
The Wisconsin native was part of the prestigious US National Development Team. He’s spent the last four years playing for the DU Pioneers. He wore the A for three of those years and has served as the team captain this season.
This season Will Butcher has added to an already impressive resume:
- 2010-2011 USHL Clark Cup Champion
- 2011-2012 U17 WHC Most Points by Defenseman (6)
- 2011-2012 U17 WHC Silver Medal
- 2011-2012 U18 WJC Gold Medal
- 2012-2013 U18 WJC Silver Medal
- 2013-2014 NCAA (NCHC) Champion
- 2014-2015 U20 WJC Top 3 Player on Team
- 2015-2016 NCAA (NCHC) First All-Star Team
In this season he’s been named the NCAA (NCHC) Best Offensive Defenseman, NCAA (NCHC) Player of the Year, NCAA (NCHC) Regular Season Champion and to the NCAA (NCHC) First All Star Team. Oh, and he’s a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award for Top Collegiate Player.
And, you know, he may win another NCAA Championship.
Will Butcher and the Colorado Avalanche
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To my mind, it’s likely both Chambers’ and Dater’s reportings are accurate.
Last summer the Colorado Avalanche were looking at a different mold of player. They wanted big, gritty, speedy players with lots of leadership and skill.
Will Butcher is scouted as being a “smart two-way defenseman” whose main talents “lie in the offensive zone.” While he certainly displays leadership abilities, being part of the captaincy structure since his first season at DU, he’s not known for being gritty. And he’s small — 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. Therefore, he didn’t fit most of the points in the old Avalanche mold.
That mold has changed, though. Judging by acquisitions from the draft on, speed and skill are still prized, and leadership is always a coveted quality. However, the team seems to prefer small, smart players now.
Will Butcher fits that mold a lot more accurately. Therefore, it makes sense the Colorado Avalanche might be considering him now after eschewing him last year.
Butcher has taken part in three prospect development camps with the Avalanche, missing just 2015. By last summer, he almost looked more like a coach than a prospect because he understood the system so well.
While it’s true I was a big fan of the old mold of Colorado Avalanche player, I think Will Butcher could be a good addition to the team. He’s 22, so the Avs can sign him for just two years. It seems silly not to take a chance on such a celebrated player.
The Frozen Four tournament takes place on April 6 with the two winning teams playing for the championship on April 8. Once the tournament is over, we’ll have a better idea of what Butcher’s future with the Colorado Avalanche is.