The Devils will look to mine offense from secondary sources this year. As we discussed yesterday, David Clarkson will be part of the equation, but the Devils will need more than that to remain in playoff contention. For this, they’ll have to look a little deeper and if you’ve been paying attention through the first few days of camp, you’ll have noticed a trend: Bobby Butler playing in key situations.
Through the first three days of camp, he’s been skating on a line with first-line center Travis Zajac and today he practiced on the first power-play unit.
“I liked what I saw in the American league,” DeBoer said of Butler. “I thought he got better as the season went on. He’s one guy that’s created offense on a regular basis and he can score. On a team that has lost some goals, he’s an intriguing guy.”
Butler, 25, led Albany with 15 goals and 23 points in 32 games after getting off to a slow start. He scored just three goals in his first 17 games before getting hot in mid-December and scoring 12 goals in his last 15 contests, including a four-goal, five-point game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Dec. 12.
“He’s been smoking hot,” said Josefson, who was linemates with Butler at times in Albany. “It feels like if he got a shooting opportunity, he scored, so I hope he can just continue doing that. It’s been great to play with him.”
Corey GriffinI like Butler. I liked him in Ottawa and was disappointed when he submarined last season, although it’s unlikely he’d be a Devil if he had performed up to expectations. He loves to shoot the puck, which could work well if he sticks on the third line with the pass-happy Josefson, who will eventually man the third pivot spot once Adam Henrique returns. As long as Butler keeps his confidence up and keeps putting the puck on net, he possesses a skillset that not a lot of players on the Devils have. He could easily be a sneaky 15-goal scorer with the right linemates and opportunity. I really like the idea of him on the second power-play unit, with occasional time on the first as well.
Given the way they’re deploying him thus far and given the overall look of the roster at this point, I personally expect him to at least get some sort of shot at sticking on the NHL roster. They already know he can play at the AHL level, so why not give him a 15-game audition to see what he can do on the big stage with renewed confidence.