March 15, 2017
University of Denver senior defenseman Will Butcher was named a 2017 Hobey Baker Award finalist as one of only 10 players nationally up for men’s college hockey’s top honor, the Hobey Baker Award Committee announced Wednesday. He is the lone Hobey Baker Award finalist from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) this season and the sixth in the conference’s four-year history as the NCHC has had at least one top-10 finalist all four seasons.
Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.) is tied for second nationally among defensemen with 35 points while playing in all 38 games for DU this season, averaging 0.92 points per game. Denver’s team captain potted six goals this season, while dishing out 29 assists, which led the entire NCHC and tied for second among NCAA blue liners. Butcher logged a plus-23 rating during the season, which was fourth nationally among defensemen, while blocking 73 shots and firing 101 shots on goal. In conference play, the Colorado Avalanche draft pick racked up 25 points to lead NCHC blue liners, including a conference-best 22 helpers, to help lead the Pioneers to their first Penrose Cup as NCHC regular season champions.
In addition to being a Hobey Baker Award finalist, Butcher was named First-Team All-Conference for a second straight season and is a finalist for 2017 NCHC Player of the Year and Offensive Defenseman of the Year. The business major was also a six-time NCHC Defenseman of the Week honoree this season. Away from hockey, Butcher is involved with Hockey Saves, which assists current and former military personnel in playing and attending hockey, as well as transitioning back to civilian life.
Butcher is lone defenseman among the Hobey Baker Award finalists, along with seven forwards and two goaltenders. All six college hockey conferences are represented among the 10 finalists.
The Hobey Hat Trick (three finalists) will be announced on March 30, 2017 and the Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced Friday, April 7, 2017 from Chicago during the NCAA Frozen Four. The award announcement will take place at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The announcement will be televised live on the NHL Network at 6 p.m. ET.
The ten finalists were selected by voting from all 60 Division I college hockey head coaches and by online fan balloting. Next, the 27-member Selection Committee and an additional round of fan balloting from March 16-26 will determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. Criteria for the award include: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.