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Eight with Eight: Will Butcher joins Jersey

The newest Devil discusses his path to Jersey, new uniform number and more.

by Brian Born @BrianBorn /

The Devils' offseason continued to improve on Sunday night when the club added the big fish in the college free-agent market, defenseman Will Butcher. 

Butcher had an illustrious four-year career at the University of Denver, capping off his senior season by winning the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the top men's NCAA Division I hockey player, and a National Championship victory. The 22-year-old has a reputation for being an offensive defenseman, but will rely on his hockey smarts to achieve success at the highest level. 

When speaking to the media on Monday, Butcher expressed his trust in coach John Hynes and the Devils to help him further his development and reach his potential. When speaking about Hynes, Butcher said, "I think he's a strong hockey mind and a strong coach, and it seemed like a great fit on how I want to play." 

[RELATED: Press Release | Conference Call | NHL Tonight: Butcher to NJD]

Following his conference call with the media, Will Butcher talked to about the recruiting process, his new jersey number and more. 

1. What opinions of New Jersey did you have prior to your visit, and did those notions change once you visited Prudential Center?

The biggest thing was the East Coast weather that I was used to seeing when playing against Boston College and Boston University was it usually was rainy and gray. But we walked around the Hoboken area [on Saturday] and it was sunny and 75 and I was overlooking the water thinking to myself, "Man it is beautiful here." Just seeing that kind of changed my perspective. Not too much, but it was great to see.

I was drafted in Prudential Center by Colorado, so taking a step back and remembering how great of an arena it is definitely helped. It's a huge rink and a great facility.


2. What was the Devils' recruiting process like and what did Saturday's visit entail? 

It started as a conference call with Ray Shero and John Hynes. After a few days, I decided on which teams I would go visit, and I really wanted to go to New Jersey to have a face-to-face to see how well I can relate with them. I arrived at New Jersey on Saturday and Coach Hynes picked me up from the airport. We really hit it off and had lunch in Hoboken before arriving at Prudential Center. At that point, I received a tour of the rink, the facilities, the training area and locker room, and met a lot of great people. It was great overall. 


3. Obviously, Scott Stevens' No. 4 is retired here, which is what you wore at Denver. How did you choose your new number?

I actually didn't choose it. It was the coaching staff. I walked into the locker room and saw a jersey with No. 8 hanging in the locker. I was like "OK, looks like I'm wearing [David] Schlemko's old number. Looks like it fits." When we were walking out, my dad said that he could really see me in No. 8. I'm honored to wear that number and can't wait to put on the Devils jersey. 


4. What kind of player can the Devils' fan base expect to see when you take the ice? Is there an NHL player (retired or active) that you consider your game to be most like?

My main strengths and assets that you will hopefully notice if I'm doing my job right during the game are my smarts, quick decisions and moving the puck. I can create offense in a set offense or on the rush.

Growing up I was a huge Mike Modano fan, but when I started to get older I focused more on defensemen. I would watch Duncan Keith and Torey Krug and emulated how they carried themselves during the game. I gravitated towards smaller guys just because they reminded me of myself. You can take good notes and lessons from guys like that.


5. Have you tried the local N.J. breakfast food staple that is Taylor Ham/Pork Roll yet?

I have not yet. Fans have been tweeting me about it so I know I have to try it.


6. Who's your preferred New Jersey music icon: Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi?

Bruce Springsteen for sure. I like his music and gravitate more towards his type of music than Bon Jovi. Not that Bon Jovi isn't good … he's a legend. But I have to go with Springsteen.


7. What has you most excited about joining the New Jersey Devils and participating in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo?

I'm just ready to get going. I'm a guy who likes to have a set plan, so going through this process was nerve-racking. Now I'm just excited to be part of an organization that I feel like I belong to and I think I can grow into. I'm excited to start playing games in Buffalo because I haven't played in a game since April. 


8. What benefits will four years of NCAA hockey provide towards you making the jump to the highest level?

Tweet from @Polchampski: What benefits will four years of NCAA hockey provide towards you making the jump to the highest level?

 My coaching staff at Denver helped develop me into a pro. At Denver, I lived off campus for three years so I had to do my own laundry, make your own meals and do things the right way.

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