New Jersey Devils: A Look at the Low-Risk, High-Reward Signing of Bobby Butler

Mark FischerContributor IIAugust 29, 2012

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 04: Bobby Butler #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on March 4, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Senators 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

On August 9th, the New Jersey Devils dipped into free agency and signed former Ottawa Senator Bobby Butler to a one-year, two-way contract.

Butler's final year of his contract with Ottawa was bought out after being placed on waivers on July 27th.

The former New Hampshire standout failed to build off a strong 2010-2011 campaign which saw him put up 21 points in 36 games. In 2011-2012, Butler registered a mere six goals and 10 assists in 56 games.

His lack of production was largely accredited to the limited role he was placed in by first year head coach Paul MacLean after he had failed to rekindle chemistry with first line center Jason Spezza.

Signing with New Jersey undoubtedly gives Butler an opportunity to flourish in either a second or third-line role.

With the departures of Zach Parise and Alexei Ponikarovsky through free agency earlier this summer—and the uncertainty that is Petr Sykora's future—at least two spots in the Devils' lineup are there for the taking. You can bet your bottom dollar that Bobby Butler will be vying for one of these spots.

According to Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice, Butler has already received praise from Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello. Lamoriello feels that the 25-year-old winger was misused in Ottawa this past season and still has the potential to develop into a top-six forward in the National Hockey League.

The notion isn't that far-fetched considering Butler is just two years removed from playing an instrumental role in the Binghamton Senators (American Hockey League Affiliate) Calder Cup victory.

Lamoriello also notes that "Butler will be given every opportunity" to succeed in New Jersey.

While many Devils' fans were hoping that Lamoriello would go after a guy like Alexander Semin or Shane Doan in order to fill the gaping hole left by Zach Parise—which would have only been counterproductive considering it would have been seen as a panic move—don't be too quick to fault this signing by Uncle Lou.

The signing of Bobby Butler has low-risk, high-reward written all over it.