Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sens sign Bobby Butler

The Ottawa Senators have officially signed University of New Hampshire star, Bobby Butler to a two year entry-level contract. It is a two-way contract with $9K cap hit.

Butler, native of Marlborough, MA ringing in at 6’ and 185lbs. He is a Hobey Baker Award finalist and is the top NCAA scorer for the 2009-10 season with 29 goals in 39 games. Butler is eligible to play for the Senators this season, but is unable to suit up in the NHL playoffs*. Bryan Murray has publicly stated that Butler will see some playing time eventually in the last few games of the regular season – possible as early as Thursday when the Senators face the Carolina Hurricane at Scotiabank Place.
*note: The Ottawa Citizen is claiming he is eligible for the NHL playoffs. I’m guessing it is some exception or because it is an ELC rather than the usual contract. If anyone knows, please comment!

I’m not going to claim to know about Bobby Butler as I have really been slacking on keeping up with college hockey news in the last few seasons. I decided to do some research instead and here is what I came up with.

Butler was eligible for the NHL draft back in 2007. Hockey’s Future did a brief scouting report on him from a review of the top 20 eligible NCAA players. Please note this is from his first season with University of New Hampshire (UNH).

2006-07 season: Bobby Butler may be the best Wildcats player that almost no one talked about this season. His contributions and ability to "fill some holes" on the New Hampshire roster throughout the year have helped the team earn another trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Marlboro, MA native registered 12 points (nine goals, three assists) in 38 games this season. His most memorable game came on Mar. 16 in the Hockey East semi-final thriller versus UMass. In that contest, Butler tallied the game-winner in double overtime.

Talent Analysis: Butler is budding two-way power forward with great hands and a powerful shot. One of his strongest assets is his playmaking ability, whether it's setting up a potential goal or making a nice outlet pass from the defensive zone. He makes very good decisions with the puck and also has the ability to make those around him better. As good as Butler is offensively, he is almost equally as good defensively, particularly on the penalty kill. Though he is strong on his skates and moves well, Butler is neither the prettiest nor quickest skater out there. That should improve over time.

New Hampshire associate head coach Scott Borek's comments on Butler: "I would say that most people had underestimated Bobby. We thought that it would take him longer than it did to make an impact. He had a very good season this year, particularly given the roles that we had him in. We were really excited about the year that Bobby had and we're even more excited about his future."

On December 4, 2008, HockeyProsect.com did a brief report on him as well.
UNH certainly is used to pumping out NHL caliber players (James vanRiemsdyk comes to mind as their most recent gem), and Bobby Butler, a senior undrafted forward could make waves in the offseason as an NHL free agent. Butler, a senior captain, has increased his productivity every season and is currently second in all of college hockey in scoring. As a freshman, Butler was heralded as a strong two-way prospect. As a senior, he was just named hockey east player of the month. At 6’0, 180, Butler has NHL size and could be a solid pickup for NHL teams trying to add to their prospect depth charts as a guy that slipped through the cracks.

On March 17, 2010 Redline Report did a review of the top NCAA free agents in their final year of college hockey.
8. Bobby Butler/RW — New Hampshire, 6-0/185, April 26, 1987 (Sr.)
A smart two-way winger who does an honest day's work in his own zone and plays the penalty kill. Shows good vision in the offensive zone and works well away from the puck to create space for his accurate shot. Has accomplished most of his impressive offensive production by finding holes and being in the right place at the right time. Doesn't have dynamic physical tools and his skating is average.

From speaking with UNH followers and other NCAA followers alike, it sounds as if the Sens have signed a solid prospect with a lot of potential. The biggest question being if his game can translate to the NHL level. From what I gather he is an above average skater with a great right-handed shot who can contribute effectively at both ends of the rink. Some fans added that he has room to fill out in his 6ft frame to add more strength and others are comparing him to Jamie Langenbrunner.

What I found interesting is that Butler’s goal total nearly doubles from his first 3 seasons combined. I clearly forgot to ask UNH fans about the possible factors but figure he could be a late bloomer or could be directly related to lack of ice time in his first few seasons (unfortunately, there are no “on-ice” stats recorded that I can find).

As mention previously, Bobby Butler is up for the Hobey Baker Award. Winner is announced tomorrow. I would suggest Sens fans check out www.ButlerForHobey.com – there is a great list of articles on Bobby Butler and his skills.

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