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New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero checked another item off his to-do list Wednesday, signing restricted free agent Will Butcher to a three-year extension worth $3.73 million per.
Butcher, 24, has amassed 74 points in 159 games two seasons into his NHL career. That equates to be 38 points per 82 games, which is quite impressive considering a) he's mostly seen 3rd pairing minutes at even-strength and; b) the Devils haven't exactly been an offensive powerhouse in that time.
Some might argue it's a lot of money for someone who has generally played on the bottom pairing. Here's the thing. Just because he *did* play on the bottom pairing doesn't mean he can't, or shouldn't, play higher.
Only 32 defenders have recorded as many or more points than Butcher over the last two seasons, and 29 of them logged more minutes. It's hard to find that kind of production, let alone efficiency.
Butcher is also a very effective possession driver and might well be the best defender on the team when it comes to successfully breaking out of the defensive zone. Yes, even better than P.K. Subban. Crazy, I know.
You could make a legitimate case he's the best left-handed defenseman on the team and there's still room for him to improve. There's also the option of giving him more opportunity, which would help the team get more value out of him.
Though I would have liked to see a couple more years on the deal, it's hard to complain too much about what looks like a really solid bit of business for the Devils.
With Butcher locked up, the Devils now have ~$8.7M with just Pavel Zacha left to sign. They need to save some space for the bonuses Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and co. will inevitably hit, though, so their off-season shopping may finally be done.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com, hockey-reference.com and capfriendly.com
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