After months of speculation, 2017 Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher has decided where he'll sign his first NHL contract and it won't be with Buffalo. In an announcement made Sunday night, Butcher opted to sign with the New Jersey Devils, after reportedly narrowing his list down to a few teams that included the Sabres.
Butcher became a free agent on August 16 after choosing not to sign with Colorado, where he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 Draft. The 22-year-old defenseman received interest from several teams, including the Sabres, who reached out to Butcher just minutes after he became a free agent.
Throughout the nearly two weeks of negotiating, Butcher's agent said the Sabres were "very much under consideration" and "definitely still in the mix."
Sabres GM Jason Botterill echoed those sentiments last week when he said:
"We certainly have interest but there's certainly a lot of interest throughout the league. It's a scenario where he's going through the process right now to make a decision and we're excited that we at least are part of the equation, so we'll see what happens in the next week or so."
One, two, three strikes you're out. Apparently, the third time wasn't the charm for the Sabres, who have butchered their attempts to land Jimmy Vesey, Cal Petersen and now Butcher.
Sorry, I had to.
Fear not, the sky isn't falling and things will be okay. Adding Butcher into the organization would've been a low-risk move that could've paid dividends but he's not a lock to be a great NHL player.
Sure, the previous three Hobey Baker winners [before Butcher] have had a ton of NHL success [Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, and Jimmy Vesey] but before that...not so much.
Before 2014 these were the previous five Hobey Baker winners:
2013- Drew LeBlanc
2012- Jack Connolly
2010- Blake Geoffrion
2009- Matt Gilroy
The five aforementioned players have combined for 63 points in the NHL. Gilroy is responsible for 48 of those points.
Don't get me wrong, Butcher would have been a great addition for the Sabres but this isn't a major setback, especially after their offseason blue line makeover. In his first few months, Botterill has done a nice job with the roster. There's no reason to knock him or the Sabres that they couldn't get Butcher to put pen to paper.
Butcher signing elsewhere isn't something you should lose sleep over. As our favorite internet dog meme has taught us -- "this is fine"