Stan Bowman is now stranger to signing former Hobey Baker Award winners as undrafted free agents. Back in 2013, Bowman signed Drew LeBlanc out of St. Cloud State, who never panned out, and he was one of many general managers in on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes last summer.
He may have a chance to sign the 2017 Hobey Baker winner as University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher has let the Colorado Avalanche know that he will hit the free agent market on August 15.
Scott Powers of The Athletic is reporting that the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the teams who will pursue Butcher when he is allowed to negotiate freely.
“We are mostly just watching the calendar for now, but Butcher will be looking for a team that presents a plan for him to be an NHL player over the next couple years,” Butcher’s agent Brian Bartlett told Powers in an email. “If the Blackhawks call with some ideas, we will certainly listen. Not specific to Butcher (or even the Hawks), but teams who are close to the cap need young cost effective players to step into the lineup. I'd imagine this will be one scenario we discuss with teams in a couple weeks.”
Butcher fits the bill for what the Blackhawks are looking for on defense. He is a young puck mover who is responsible in his own end and, most importantly, will be very affordable. The most the Blackhawks, or any other team, can offer Butcher is $925,000 so his decision will be based on what he feels is the best situation for his career and not money.