When the New Jersey Devils signed 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher as a college free agent out of the University of Denver, the club knew that he would become an impact player at the NHL level.
Boy, were the Devils right.
In his first season as a professional, Will Butcher shattered expectations of a traditional rookie defenseman. Butcher's 44 points (5g-39a) recorded was good to tie Kyle Palmieri for third-best on the Devils roster and ranked first among all New Jersey defenseman. The 23-year-old blueliner skated in 81 of 82 games and all five postseason contests, constantly quarterbacking the NHL's 9th best power-play unit (tied with VAN and VGK).