Avalanche prospect Will Butcher named Hobey Baker finalist

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Denver Pioneers captain and Avalanche defensive prospect Will Butcher is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Called the Hobey Hat Trick, the three NCAA players were chosen by a 27-member Selection Committee with a portion of the decision coming from an online fan poll. Zach Aston-Reese, a forward with Northeastern University and Mike Vecchione, a forward from Union College, were the other two finalists.

The Hobey Baker's criteria is a player who displays "outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship, and scholastic achievements." Since its inception in 1981, only six defenseman have won the award. Denver's Matt Carle was one of those defenseman, receiving the award in 2006. The award will be announced on Friday, April 7, 2017. The announcement will be televised live on NHL Network at 6 p.m. ET.

Butcher, hailing from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, has already received the NCHC Player of the Year award. According to the committee's press release, "Butcher is a complete player, equally efficient at both ends of the ice. His 36 points places him second in the nation in points by a defenseman, while his plus/minus of +25 is ninth overall in the nation. His outstanding season garnered honors as Offensive Defenseman of the Year in the NCHC and First Team all-conference for the second straight year."

Butcher was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 5th round (123rd overall) in the 2013 entry draft. He is expected to sign with the team after his senior season is over. The Denver Pioneers, currently ranked first overall nationally, take on Notre Dame in the first leg of the Frozen Four for the National Championship on April 6, 2017.

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