Blackhawks To Pursue Will Butcher

Stan Bowman has had his eyes on college players since he took over as the Blackhawks’ general manager. Every draft has included college-bound prospects, and he has been in the bidding on many top college players over the years. Indeed, Chicago has added college players via free agency frequently to varying success.

The latest name to appear on the Blackhawks’ radar is former University of Denver defenseman and 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher.

Butcher, 22, was a fifth round pick (#123) of the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 and just completed an incredibly successful senior season. He served as the captain of the eventual National Champions at DU and produced seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games on his way to personally being names the top player in the NCAA ranks.

Butcher is a left-handed shot listed at 5-10 and 190 pounds and he was impressive to watch in person for those Hawks fans who attended the Frozen Four at the United Center. The Blackhawks had eyes on the blue line at DU this season beyond Butcher’s potential free agency; Blake Hillman was a sixth round pick of the Hawks in 2016 and had a very nice 2016-17 campaign as well.

One hallmark of players the Blackhawks have liked historically is winners, and Butcher certainly qualifies. He’s been a member of championship teams in the USHL, NCAA and won gold with the US in the World U18 Championships as well. Leadership also matters; Butcher has worn an “A” for USA Hockey at two World Junior Championships in addition to being the captain at Denver last season.

Chicago has a lot of defensemen under contract already, however.

Darren Raddysh and Robin Press have AHL contracts with the IceHogs, but they’ll have competition to stay in Rockford. The Blackhawks also have newcomer Jan Rutta on an NHL contract and already have the following defensemen who might be in Rockford under contract for the 2016-17 season: Gustav Forsling (l), Ville Pokka (r), Erik Gustafsson (l), Luc Snuggerud (l), Carl Dahlstrom (l), Robin Norell (l), Viktor Svedberg (l) and Jordan Oesterle (l). As you can see, Chicago isn’t lacking for left-handed shots on the blue line in the system; Rutta and Pokka are the only two NHL-contract players who are right-handed shots on this list; Raddysh and Press are also right-handed.

57 thoughts on “Blackhawks To Pursue Will Butcher

  1. And how many free agent college players has BOWMAN signed with actual NHL talent???????????? NONE! Someone 5’10’ who dominates his senior year at the age of 22 is another BOWMAN mishap ready to happen. Taking a gamble on FORTIN is fine but these 22 year old free agent college kids is not.

  2. Mishap? Why? Sign him and find out rather than finding hes good and on another team.

    And why so many question marks???????????? Lol

  3. I exchanged tweets with Matt Larkin from the Hockey News this week. He believes Chicago, Pittsburgh and Boston are the 3 teams in contention for Butcher.

    Butcher’s Coach at Denver Jim Montgomery believes that Butchers puck moving style fits the Hawks perfectly. The Athletics Scott Powers interviewed him and wrote a very insightful story.

    I would like to see the Hawks land Butcher, just like I was hoping they would sign Darren Raddysh, which they did. Seeing that the Hawks pick so far down in the 1sr round of the draft every year, it is so very hard to draft legitimate top end blue chip talent. Guys like Butcher and Matthew Highmore and Alex Fortin are nice signings because each is essentially a “free” prospect.

    Having said all that there is no guarantee they will become bona fide NHL players.

    Minnesota signed defenseman Mike Reilly after the Hawks went after him hard. Two years of pro hockey and I’m still not sure he is a top 6 NHL defenseman or just a decent AHLer. Same thing with Hobey Baker winner Drew Leblanc. We all know how that turned out.

    So if they sign Butcher, great. If he goes elsewhere no biggie. As Tab pointed out, the Hawks have plenty of competition for those bottom pairing defense slots.

  4. Yes. Pretty much.

    If he busts so be it. I like players like this that know aboot winning. I’m not concerned aboot size. I’m more concerned aboot heart and character and that work ethic.

    But lets find out. Get him signed.

  5. Even though we might need more bigger guys, who gives a shit if there 5/10 190. What maters is can they play, skate. We can finetune the sized and speed guys when needed. Always take the best guys available.

    I think we get this guy, we didn’t get some others. Theres guys out there, like this, that want to prove to others who passed, thanks bro. for passing, I take that opportunity. Things happen for a reason and maybe we didn’t get other guy and get this guy. Turns out to be better. Like Hayes, big mistake he will regret. Could have been a champion by sticking to your commitments/loyalty. Money, money, bills y’all equals playing time.

  6. Craig, that’s the thing, we need to get some free guys since we donot draft 5 top picks 5 yrs in a row. Let alone a top 10 in 10 yrs, if you donot count 86 and DaCat. 8 was far from top 10. Be huge to get another Hoss type for free in ufa in a couple yrs, when we will have approx. 11m in space. For the time being load up with young guys and we will be deep again. Just a matter of time. Pay your dues and believe, donot puss out.

  7. Drew Leblanc, BAUN, KERO….seriously? If Butcher was that good, AVALANCHE would have signed him or pulled him out of college a long time ago…a 5th round pick.
    KEVIN HAYES was a 1st rounder that slipped away because he saw the COACH Q philosophy a mile away.

  8. Morrison- agreed…. I watched Denver a few times… Mostly trying to see if Hillman had anything… I can’t say Butcher jumped out to me… but can say the DU team- played, skated, reacted the game way faster than ALL the teams they played… Couple that with the fact that Butcher has been a Winner every where he goes… and I am thinking this kid Must be a + skater with ++ IQ…

    I Think Butcher- surprises- and makes a starting line-up very soon in NHL… maybe even top 4 guy… secondly- really not that small- weight wise- actually pretty “sturdy” @ 190lbs (for height)… If he Signs with Hawks- (and assuming I am right w/ ++ IQ)… I could see a Q luv affair with Butcher IQ– like TvR.

    when watching DU… They actually reminded me of Penguins… Just played faster- stretch pass game- better than others… I hope Hawks land him– but I wouldn’t be surprised if He goes to Penguins/system

    Ian Mitchell- another tiny guy- but He will be a perfect fit for that Denver program/Coach… and He all ready- thinks the game at lightning speed… He was my BIG surprise at camp… (Sikura-was great- but I expected him to be really good -based on age/College videos, etc)

  9. I read somewhere that the knock on Butcher is that he isn’t a +skater. Other aspects of his game are good but not skating. Similar to Darren Raddysh – lots to like but skating isn’t one of them. And actually similar to one of the more successful NCAA free agents signed by Stan – TvR. I’m not comparing the overall games of Butcher, Raddysh and TvR, only that their main deficiency would appear to be skating.

    I’m not sure I know how to rank the requisite skills needed to be an NHL player, but if skating isn’t at the top of the list it’s close to it.

  10. Ebony the recent reports I have read on him say he is speedy skater in both directions with quick acceleration, tough to beat one on one.

  11. ER- thanks for the input… I agree, + skating makes NHL life easier…

    I didn’t say – he was a + skater… but “thinking/guessing” he is- and/or ++ IQ… cuz that DU team- played way faster/moved the puck- way better than their opponents!

    TvR- is a great comp- was he + skater– NO… but the guy did have a good IQ and average skater… WTS- guessing Butcher- is better/faster than TvR- just by watching a few games of Lightning paced Denver U… OR at very least- Moved the Puck way faster ( Like most of the Penguins- D players/in their system)

  12. It was reported that the AVs didn’t pursue Butcher last year because they wanted big gritty fast guys on defense. But this season were not so hung up on size and just wanted speedy skilled players he was in their radar but he chose to not sign and go free agency route and which he may have all along anyways

  13. Clearly SB loves to target this college FA, I’m still waiting to find the college FA that has been able to turn into a top NHLer because I can’t recall one. Maybe I’m wrong but is Justin Schultz the best example so far?

  14. Tyler Bozak, Torrey Krug abd Denny Dekeyser are all pretty decent players and Hayes and Caguila seem to have decent futures ahead. Jimmy Vessey could be a very big star after a pretty impressive rookie season. Looks like plenty of reason to do your due dilligence on the college free agents.

  15. Hopefully they sign him. If he doesn’t pan out it’s not a big deal just a contract spot. It he turns into an NHL player even better.
    They are gonna have some openings in the Ahl/NHL this and next year.

    2/5/42/7 only regular NHL dmen signed for next year
    6/32 and Rutta will be free agents.
    Ahl Level Svedberg Gustofsson and Pokka probably won’t stick around if they have no shot at a NHL job.

    Leaves you with Snuggerud Butcher? Dahlstrom Press Norell? Raddysh? Maybe Gilbert and Hillman.
    Not exactly murderers row.
    Oesterle

  16. All this confirms our scouting should be better. I believe the philosophy needs to change. Drafting all these American kids who go to college so BOWMAN can stall development and hold on to his budget is wrong.

  17. A simple question. Why doesn’t Bowman draft more CHL players? They play many more games per year than college players and, in my opinion, are overall more NHL ready than the U.S. College players.

  18. Simple answer : Bowman likes to draft guys and let them marinate so to speak so that he does not have to make a decision on handing out a contract to a 20 year old.
    He wants guys who are 3 or more years in the development process from their draft year. Therefore he and his staff are deciding whether to sign a 21 or 22 year old.

  19. Totti. You say Stall their development. But the Hawks do not pick high enough in the draft to force feed them quickly into pro hockey.

    Examples : Hartman, 1sr rounder in 2013, now an NHL 19 goal scorer at 22 years old,
    Schmaltz, 2014 1st rounder, in 2014 ,NHL top 6 forward after two years of college, going on 22 years old. Teuvo, 2012 1st rounder. NHL top 6 forward. Stanley Cup winner in 2015 as youngest member of the Blackhawks. 2011, Brandon Saad, Stanley Cup Stud! Phil Denault, legitimate NHL Center who should not have been dealt.

    Point being, guys who are ready for the NHL are playing.

    I do agree with you there must be better development of defensemen at Rockford. Period. Now that Nik H has been traded, the mantra of “the big three” is over.

  20. With the hiring of Colliton in Rockford and the additions of Samuelsson and Granato as assistants in Chicago the Blackhawks have already made it obvious that they have addressed the development of their prospects and especially their young dmen. It should show up all around this season, Samuelsson will make the Europeans like Forsling, Kempny and maybe Rutta more comfortable and bring out the best in them. Players like Murphy, Oesterle, Butcher possibly and any other callups will benefit greatly from him. Be interesting to see what kind of role Rozival has in this, may be just early on till newer guys learn whats expected from them. Colliton should bring alot to aid the development in Rockford as his track record shows and Granato should help the forwards with the Hawks immensly.

  21. This is wonderful. How about Bowman focusing on at least one center who excels at faceoffs? Bowman’s summer has consisted of signing defensemen and bottom six (more like AHL worthy) forwards who aren’t centers.

  22. Iceman I agree needed improvement there. Dauphin is said to have shown ability to be a good faceoff guy in minors. Also I don’t understand why there is no talk on Fortin who last season in the Q league switched to center and was +65% in faceoffs after doing so. It appears he may have potential that he could offer alot of help in that area.

  23. Butcher is the first Defenceman to win that trophy ? since Matt Gilroy in 09 ….now who knows where is Gilroy now ?
    Answer …Khl …
    Nobody knows what Butcher will do in NHL ….it would be nice to get him but maybe its not so nice iff he become a Drew Leblanc who was unable to play in Rockford …..
    Its a bit like 50-50 chance he plays in NHL for a carrer…
    Hope we can find a few pearls who can fit with the Hawks System soon

  24. Here is a Hawks 22 man roster (using current salaries) w/o all the trading in the past few years. How do you think it stacks up to today’s roster. 18 out of the 22 are home grown. I lose Arty but get to keep Panarin, Terravainen, Raanta and Hjalmarsson.

    Total cost of roster — $74.2m

    Centers — 16.0m
    Toews 10.5
    Danault .9
    Shaw 3.9
    Kero .7

    Wings — 31.4m
    Kane 10.5
    Saad 6.0
    Panarin 6.0
    Terravainen 2.8
    Panik 2.8
    Hartmann .9
    Schmaltz .9
    Sharp .8
    Tootoo .7

    Defense — 19.8m
    Keith 5.5
    Seabrook 6.9
    Hjalmarsson 4.1
    Forsling .9
    TVR .8
    Kempny .9
    Johns .7

    Goalies — 7.0m
    Crawford 6.0
    Raanta 1.0

  25. And– an interesting what if. If Crawford and Terravainen had been packaged in a trade to Carolina (keeping Darling), probably could have gotten Justin Faulk and the top 4 D would be set.

    Or just keeping Darling over Crow and not having traded for Panik saves enough cap space to have kept Leddy (I realize the timing is off on this one). In addition, if I flip Motte for Tootoo that gives me 20 out of 22 players as homegrown (only Leddy & Sharp are not)
    AND all but 5 would have been drafted “after” the first SC.

  26. Is Butcher even close to being in the some conversation/situation that Vesey was in last year….i.e. ready to play in NHL right away?

  27. And what do you do about the 4 million dollar albatross last summer? ( would not have been an albatross had health not been an issue) How about the 3.5 in overages? It’s great loving in a vacuum where only certain things apply.

    Butcher’s camp has said there is not am nhl mandate. Heard an exec say he probably needs a year in the AHL.

    He’s a free prospect that cost what 70k in the AHL? Who cares what Matt Gilroy did 8 years ago and where he is now. Andy Miele, Jack Connolly etc all in the same boat. Forget the Hobey. That’s not why teams want him.

  28. I’m curious what Butcher’s upside is. These guys that go all the way to August 16, have this way of creating intrigue. Vesey, Mike Reilly, K. Hayes.

    If he’s just a third pairing guy, ceiling wise, meh. The Hawks Have drafted a boatload of defensemen in recent years. I think Scott Powers counted fourteen.

    Add to that they inked Darren Raddysh after he dominated the OHL.

    If Butcher is top 4 material, then go for it. If not, I’m not sure we need a guy blocking Krys, Snuggerud or Gilbert, Hillman or Lucas Carlsson in a year or two.

  29. Maybe we should just forget about him then we can all post in a couple of years when is doing good for another team and post about how dumb Bowman is. Its a small risk for a potentially good dman c’mon people.

  30. I agree, I believe we should forget about a 5’10” dman who is 22 years of age. He will probably sign with Vegas because it is the only place where he may crack the 3rd pairing as they sell the Hobey hype winner to their fans.
    Let’s move on a develop our own and draft players from the CHL who play a lot more games. Unless uour name is Eichel, Toews or Hanafin, how many super stars come from NCAA???

  31. La vitesse!!! La grandeur!!! La vision!!!
    Speed, size and vision… I like the Rockford coaching staff this year. Fresh start for everyone and hopeful players develop. I do believe Bowman needs to let go of his curious obsession with free agent NCAA players like Baun, Kero, Leblanc, etc… There is a good reason why scouts do not draft these players.

  32. Jokiharju, Mitchell, Laavainen , Galvas, Ess, Krys, Carlsson, Hillman, Ryczyk, Gilbert, Shea, Tuulola, snuggerud, Soderburg, all drafted since 2014.
    Add 2013, Dahlstrom, Novell, Press.

    That’s 17 defenseman drafted and home grown since the Hawks won their second Cup. You’ve got to figure that 3 of these guys can develop into a top 6 NHL defenseman.

    Development is so very key moving forward.

  33. Craig Butcher may be one of 2 or 3 who eventually make an impact on the roster.There is when it comes to depth an old saying that there is no such thing as a bad minor league signing. Which is where Butcher would be if he signs until he proves he should be with the Blackhawks.

  34. my 2 cents ( and NOT based on actually focusing on Watching Butcher- during games I watched Denver)… but watching Denver- FLY past and around team’s they played…

    Butcher was their #1 D guy
    Butcher has won – at the last few levels he Played

    My guess- is this guy CAN crack an NHL line up… sooner or later
    Who’s lineup??? and what pairing??? No clue…

    But kid has winning intangibles and Played in College system- that resembled – Penguins

    Lastly- supposedly- Q thought Hillman- impressed at camp– and I believe Butcher played a lot with Hillman- and was regarded as the “better” player- so there’s that

  35. Ian. I have a feeling he signs in Vegas. They are starting their farm system from the ground, up. So he would be their top defenseman in the AHL, guaranteed ice time, play in all situations, then get called up and not have to worry about making rookie mistakes, just keep growing with the organization.

  36. I agree ! Bet on Vegas!

    One a my favorite 4th line players signed , Cullen, has returned to the Wild for $1 m.
    Love his skating and he’s 40! Last year 13 goals + 18 assists as a 4th line Centre! That is almost more than the entire bottom six of the Hawks!

  37. Wall, I agree but Coach Q needs to show give young Dmen a full season. We can graciously say goodbye to Roszival.

  38. Hawks are not pursuing him. They haven’t been in contact with him or his reps at this point. And he became a free agent last night. I’d say they are passing.

  39. And I might be in the minority but I’m totally okay with this.

    The Hawks wanted Kempny last year, went after him hard and got him. The Hawks wanted Ruuta this past Spring went after him and got him. The Hawks wanted Raddysh went after him and got him. That’s 3 defensemen who were somewhat sought after by many teams and the Hawks landed them. We have to see if they can play.

    Living here in Omaha, I can tell you that no team scouts the NCHC more than the Hawks. They are constantly watching guys like Snuggerud, Olofsson, Iocopelli, Louis, Hillman, L. Johnson, Schmaltz, so its safe to say they have seen Butcher dozens upon dozens of times and have ultimately decided they like what they have already in house better.

    Keep in mind they have also seen Oesterle a bunch of times and obviously really like his game. I think he’s a real dark horse who could see more games in Chicago than Rockford.

  40. If the Blackhawks show no interest in Butcher I think it quite possibly because a contract loaded with bonuses cuts in to what ltir space that can be used. Which leads you to think a big deal during the season is coming, possibly defensive help then.
    Orsterle will definetly get a good look as he offers versatility in his ability to play both sides missing with TVR gone.

  41. Important for the Hawks and Coach Q to identify Schmaltz as the 2nd or 3rd line Centre. We cannot afford another Teuvo being forced to play on his opposite wing. He has great vision thus give him the job and let him grow.

  42. Wall, those are the things that matter. This guy could be a top 4, so he is well worth and would be a good thing to get him. Theres nothing but a opportunity for him to be a top 4 or screw it hes only 190 so lets only draft 220 pound D man, which take 2-3 yrs before they might be ready.

  43. All I know about this kid is that he is smart for wanting out of Denver, Joe Sakic has run that team into the ground. Other than a very brief blip under Roy in which they killed in the Reg season then went out weakly that Org has been a dumpster fire for a long time now.

  44. Q is truly on the hot seat. I’m sure he knows it. They fired his best buddy Kitchen. They traded Nik H. and Panerin, Q stormed out of a meeting and did not return for the first night of the draft. Then when he did speak, he said he wants ton”win now” while Stan is taking a longer term view or approach.

    If the Hawks slip out of the top 8 in the West, get set for Coach Kevin Dineen.

  45. Q is losing his grip on the team and his relationship with Mr.ACCOUNTANT is obviously a bad one. It has always been, ask BERGEVIN and DUDLEY. I think he may step down halfway through this season or get fired after 10 games. His stubbornness with making players play out of position does not help and drives players crazy. And after what he did to HOSSA last year who was having the best start of his career, moving him away from the PANARIN / ANISIMOV line , to join AHL ECHL centre TANNER KERO, was simply not a great idea. INSULTING!!!
    BOWMAN’s lack of vision, awful drafting, overpaying and bonus mentality combined with COACH Q’s stubbornness and lack of patience the last 3-4 years (Ask TEUVO, SCHMALTZ, LEDDY, DANO, GUSTAFSON, etc…..), makes this season a debacle in the making. When a GM fires the COACHES best friend, MIKE KITCHEN, instead of blaming himself for the awful contracts and trades (ANISIMOV, SHARP, LEDDY, etc…), we have an arrogant and out of touch front office. TOO bad…
    Hopefully, the rookies perform but when you are given a C for drafting this past JUNE by scouts, the year you are hosting the draft with a great number of picks, and your HEAD COACH storms out of a meeting, JOE SAKIC is on the phone with COACH Q for sure.

  46. DESPERATELY SEEKING FREE AGENT COLLEGE players or overaged FREE AGENT EUROS tells us all we need to know about BOWMAN’s staff and lack of vision. KITCHEN was not the problem, MARK KELLEY, PIERRE GAUTHIER, and the BOWMAN family are the main problem along with hot headed CEO McDONOUGH. This is a dysfunctional old group with lots of in fighting. The TALLON DUDLEY combination was best because it was about hockey minds and its vision.

  47. locks
    ANA
    MIN and CHI
    STL and NAS

    most likely locks
    SAJ and EDM

    boarder line locks/one gets in unless SAJ doesnt
    LOS and DAL and CAL

  48. Put Dal & Cal in and SAJ out Mo and Bolts, Sens, Leafs and Habs plus NYR, Caps, Pens and either CBJ or Isles in the east.

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