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Butcher to choose NHL team Sunday

Sabres, Golden Knights among those being considered by college free agent defenseman

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Defenseman Will Butcher, winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men's hockey last season, will choose an NHL team Sunday.

"I will be making my decision on Sunday with my family and my agent there with me," Butcher said in an email to on Thursday.

Butcher's agent, Brian Bartlett, said there are as many as four teams in the mix to sign him, including the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights. Butcher has two more visits scheduled this week before returning home to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, on Saturday.

"He's in Denver now at the pro camp taking place at the University of Denver, so he hasn't been with his family to sit down and talk about things," Bartlett said. "The hope is we'll sit down once he gets home and make a decision by Sunday because NHL rookie tournaments and camps are coming up pretty quick."

Butcher, 22, was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fifth round (No. 123) of the 2013 NHL Draft but elected not to sign with them and became an unrestricted free agent Aug. 16. A college player has four years to sign with the team that drafts him before he can become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 16 of that fourth year.

"He wants to play for team that really understands and believes in him as a player and what he can bring to an organization, so it's weeding out the ones who just kind of want good players since every team needs good players," Bartlett said. "The second part is which team has the opportunity and resources to give him the best chance to be a longtime professional player. We haven't been demanding he make the team right out of [training] camp or have a roster spot. It's about the process over the next couple of years."

Butcher had 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) in 43 games last season, his fourth at Denver. He was the Pioneers captain and helped them win the NCAA championship. He is the first defenseman to win the Hobey Baker Award since Matt Gilroy of Boston University in 2009, and the second player from Denver (Matt Carle, 2006).

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