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NCAA star Will Butcher turns down Avalanche for NHL free agency

We have this summer’s Jimmy Vesey, ladies and gentlemen.

For the second straight off-season, the winner of the Hobey Baker Award — handed annually to NCAA’s most valuable hockey player — has declined to sign with the club that drafted him in order to explore NHL free agency.

University of Denver defenceman Will Butcher has opted not to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft (123rd overall), and will instead listen to offers from the entire league.

Butcher, 22, becomes an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15, at which point he can sign a three-year, entry-level contract with any of the league’s 31 teams.

The money offered from all bidders should be equal; the differences will be roster opportunity, chances to win and geographical preference.

Butcher declined Colorado’s formal offer presented to him in the spring, according to BSN. The Avalanche did not make their prospect an offer after his third NCAA season.

“We appreciate what Colorado has done, and we’re not ruling out the Avalanche as a potential destination. But we just feel there will be other opportunities that should be explored too,” Brian Bartlett, Butcher’s agent, told BSN Denver.