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Will Butcher opts to sign with Devils rather than Sabres

Will Butcher appreciates the enthusiasm shown by the Sabres and their fans, but the defenseman has decided to make New Jersey his home.

The free agent signed a two-year, $1.85 million contract with the Devils on Sunday night. The heavily courted Butcher also considered joining Buffalo and Las Vegas, among others.

“It was a difficult decision for Will because a number of teams did a great job of presenting how they could help Will grow into an NHL player," agent Brian Bartlett said on NHL.com. "Ultimately, Will and his family felt like New Jersey provided a good mix of opportunity, coaching, development, style of play and returning players.

“Will has always been an offensive defenseman and felt like if he continues to develop there could be a chance to help on New Jersey's power play in the future."

There’s a good chance Butcher will make his Devils debut in Buffalo. The Sabres are hosting their annual Prospects Challenge from Sept. 8-11 in HarborCenter, and the Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins are the other teams participating.

The 22-year-old Butcher won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player. He captained the University of Denver to the college championship with seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games. Originally drafted by Colorado, Butcher decided not to sign this summer and opted for free agency.

“Honored & humbled to be a part of the NJ Devils,” Butcher wrote on Twitter. “Would like to thank all teams involved in the process. The NHL community is truly the best.”

Sabres notebook: Butcher nearing decision, Amerks slate HarborCenter exhibition

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