DETROIT - University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher, who was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference player of the year on Thursday and was a 2013 draft choice of the Colorado Avalanche, will soon be offered an NHL contract by the Avs, BSN Denver has learned.
An NHL source said the Avalanche, after internal deliberations, will make an earnest contract offer to the DU senior and captain, who played Friday night in a game against the University of North Dakota in St. Paul, Minn.
It has been an open question of late as to whether the Avs would offer Butcher a contract before he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15. Under NHL bylaws, even though the Avs drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft, he can become unrestricted if the team didn't offer him a contract by Aug. 15. The Avs now intend to offer him a competitive deal.
At 5-10, 190 pounds, Butcher still faces questions about his size for an NHL that is getting bigger and faster by the month it seems. But the Avs, according to the NHL source, are sufficiently impressed by Butcher's hockey sense to overcome doubts about his size, at least in offering an initial deal.
The Avs were not sufficiently impressed by Butcher's talents to offer him a deal last year, despite a vocal chorus that said it would be foolish not to do so. But they are now. Butcher, the Avs feel, proved his worth in a senior season for the Pioneers that saw the Wisconsin native finish second in NCAA scoring among defensemen, with 35 points in 38 games.