When Devils GM Lou Lamoriello announced the news last Thursday, Devils fans everywhere thought one thing...
Who the H-E double hockey sticks is Bobby Butler?
Prior to being called up to Ottawa, Butler had similar success with Ottawa's AHL team the Binghamton Senators. According to the Ottawa Senators website, Butler recorded 15 goals, eight assists and 17 penalty minutes in 25 games with Binghamton.
Even prior to that, Butler put up 61 goals, 60 assists and 88 penalty minutes over his four-year 153-game collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire (via: the Ottawa Senators website).
Fans might not think Butler was a sufficient pickup after losing Zach Parise; however, it is possible that Lamoriello found a sleeper free-agent signing this offseason in Butler.
Here are three reasons why the Devils made a great addition in Butler.
Not long after the announcement, Lou Lamoriello explained what he saw in Bobby Butler:
“He showed he can score and then for whatever reason, and these things happen when there’s a coaching change, he didn’t get as much as ice time (only 11:28 per game after playing 15:25 per game in 2010-11)—not through anyone’s fault," said Lamoriello (via NBC Sports).
Lamoriello has a good point there; Butler's production only dwindled as his ice time dwindled. The Ottawa Senators were so enveloped in breakout players like Erik Karlsson and Nick Foligno, they never really gave Butler a chance.
With the amount of faith and opportunity Lamoriello is willing to extend, Devils fans should see Butler's full potential.
Not to mention playing in New Jersey is nothing like playing in Ottawa. As a team based out of Canada, Senators players are celebrities.
Devils players hardly get the same magnitude of star treatment. As a relatively unpopular NHL team, being a Devil means eating, sleeping and breathing hockey.
This is the kind of hardworking, no-nonsense atmosphere that can bring the best out of Butler.
Only a 25-year-old, Bobby Butler's style of play can be molded to fit any facet of the game. He has shown he can score goals, get assists and rack up penalty minutes.
With the New Jersey Devils in a phase of restructuring, a versatile young player like Butler is ideal.
There will be a lot of changes in the Devils' lineup this year.
Former Devils enforcer turned goalscorer David Clarkson reached the 30-goal mark last season. If Clarkson proceeds with his offensive transformation, Butler could be counted on to fill Clarkson's grinding role.
Butler could also be able to fill former Devil Alexei Ponikarovsky's skates as well. After defecting to Winnipeg, Ponikarovsky left a hole in New Jersey's scoring depth.
Whether Devils head coach Pete DeBoer has Butler dropping the gloves or crashing the net, expect Butler to find his role in the Devils' offense.
Depending on how well he plays in Newark, Bobby Butler could find himself cemented into the next generation Devils. Alongside Adam Henrique, Cam Janssen and Adam Larsson, Butler provides the Devils with some much-needed youth.
Lou Lamoriello has never been one to shy away from the developmental side of creating a good team. Rather than hiring a one-year gun like Alexander Semin, Lamoriello would rather develop Butler and see where things go from there.
“He signed a two-way (contract), so we’ll just see what develops, but he has the potential of being a top-six forward," said Lamoriello (via northjersey.com).
While many are skeptical of Lamoriello's words, Lamoriello has never given Devils fans reason to doubt his ways. Like the popular Devils blog, inlouwetrust.com, says in its name, Devils fans need to believe that Lamoriello knows what he is doing.