Bobby Butler signed a one-year, two-way deal with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. GM Lou Lamoriello said that the 25-year-old forward has top-six potential and will be given every opportunity to succeed. The former Ottawa Senators forward scored 16 goals over the past two seasons, adding 21 assists for a total of 37 points.
Tom Gulitti reported on Fire & Ice that Lamoriello is very familiar with Bobby Butler and sees him as a scorer:
“There’s no question he was goal scorer in college and certainly in the first (36) games in Ottawa his first year… 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 — not through anyone’s fault. He also played in Binghamton for (former Devils assistant and AHL head coach) Kurt Klienendorst when they won the Calder Cup, so we know a lot about him there and also his college coach (Dick Umile) I had at Providence. So, we know enough about him.
The move carries very little risk, and the Devils seem particularly excited about Bobby Butler and his potential to develop into a scoring threat in the NHL. Bobby Butler did only sign a one-year deal, though. For someone Lamoriello seems to view with such high regard, a one-year deal seems counter-intuitive. If he proves himself to be the goal-scorer New Jersey hopes Bobby Butler can be, they’ll have to pay more for his potential moving forward. However, it seems the Devils are content to simply allow the Bobby Butler scenario to play out.
Lamoriello went on to say that “[Bobby Butler] signed a two-way, so we’ll just see what develops, but he has the potential of being a top-six forward.”
The Devils have a need for scoring and Bobby Butler will have an opportunity to contribute this year, though top-six expectations seem like a reach. If Bobby Butler can produce at the NHL level, the Devils will likely be pleased. Don’t expect Butler to fill the offensive void left by Alexei Ponikarovsky and Zach Parise, but if he can average anywhere his numbers from two seasons ago over a full season the Devils may have found a steal late in the offseason.