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Will Butcher (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils acquired one of the most sought after, college hockey prospects, while shoring up their defense on Sunday as Hobey Baker Award winner, Will Butcher, reached an agreement on a two-year entry-level contract with the organization.

Butcher, 22, spent the past four seasons with the University of Denver. This past season he captained the Pioneers to a National Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship. He also became the second University of Denver player to win the Hobey Baker Award as top collegiate hockey player.

During his senior season, he finished second in scoring amongst defenders, with seven goals and 30 assists for 37 points in 43 games. In addition to the Hobey Baker, Butcher also was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team, was the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Best Offensive Defenseman, a NCHC First Team All-Star, NCHC Player of the Year, USA Hockey College Player of the Year and NCAA West First Team All-American.

The Sun Prairie, Wisconsin native has represented the United States on the international level throughout his career. He helped Team USA capture the silver at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation under-18 World Championship as well as the gold at the 2012 IIHF U-18 World Championship.

The five-foot-10, 190-pound defenseman spent two seasons with the U.S. National Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 2011 to 2013. Three of his four seasons in Denver, he was teammates with Nolan Zajac, the younger brother of Devils center Travis Zajac. Butcher and newly signed forward, Drew Stafford, both are represented by the same agent, Brian Bartlett.

Butcher, who became an unrestricted free agent earlier this month after the Colorado Avalanche were unable to sign him to a contract, Tweeted, that he was “Honored and humbled to be a part of the Devils.” He also thanked the other teams that were involved in the process.

The Avalanche chose Butcher in the fifth round with the 123rd overall pick of the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Incidentally, the Avalanche just recently signed the Devils 2012 fifth round pick, Alexander Kerfoot to an entry-level contract. Kerfoot was finalist for the Hobey Baker Award with Butcher.

Devils general manager Ray Shero told, “We are immensely excited to have Will and his family join our organization. This continues to represent what we want to do as a team: Bring in talented individuals, invest in their talent and develop them as we progress.”

It has been reported that the Devils were battling with the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights for the rights to have Butcher join their club.

Bartlett added, “It was a difficult decision for Will because a number of teams did a great job of presenting how they could help him grow into an NHL player. 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.”

University of Denver head coach, Jim Montgomery compared Butcher’s play to former NHL defenseman, Andrei Markov. Butcher’s contract with the Devils has an annual salary of 925,000 dollars. According to the Associated Press, he can add about 850,000 in bonuses. Stafford, who is also represented by Butcher’s agent, signed a one-year, 800,000-dollar, one-way deal with New Jersey on Friday.

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