2016 NCAA Frozen Four: Offensive game blossoms for Pioneers’ Butcher

By DJ Powers
Will Butcher - University of Denver

Photo: University of Denver defenseman and Colorado Avalanche Will Butcher has had a productive 2015-16 campaign, scoring eight goals and 31 points in 38 games for the Pioneers (courtesy of David Berding/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

University of Denver junior defenseman Will Butcher is in the midst of his best collegiate season and is developing into one of the nation’s best all-around rearguards.

A fifth round selection of the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, Butcher has taken his game to another level in 2015-16 as he currently sits tied for third in scoring among all NCAA defenders with eight goals and 31 points in 40 games. Butcher’s work did not go unrecognized as he was named to the All-NCHC First Team last month.

Hockey’s Future spoke with Butcher after practice on Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL about playing in the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four, his development, and his relationship with the Avalanche organization.

Hockey’s Future: Let’s talk about the incredible ride that you guys have been on to get here to the Frozen Four.

Will Butcher: I’ve never been to Tampa before, so I’ve enjoyed it, bonding with my teammates and being able to play for a National Championship.

HF: You’re going to be facing a very familiar rival in North Dakota. Any thoughts on that?

WB: Yeah, I think it’s good because we have a great rivalry. I think it’s going to be an intense game and that’s the way it should be in the Frozen Four.

HF: You’re in the midst of a terrific year with Denver. Talk about how that has all come about for you this season in terms of improvements in your overall development.

WB: Coach (Jim) Montgomery has given me more responsibilities here. I’m an assistant captain, so I have added responsibilities and accountabilities. I think that’s helped my game because it’s motivated and pushes me to become a better player in every respect. I think Coach Montgomery has worked with me really well since I was a freshman. He’s worked with me on playing better on the defensive side of the puck and raising my offensive skills. Just doing some of the things that help you develop.

HF: How does the Colorado Avalanche use the close proximity to DU as an advantage to help your development?

WB: I think one of the things that they do is come watch me a lot. One guy in particular is Brett Clark. He’s been big into my game so far and comes to watch a lot of the games. He’s helped me a lot. We text back and forth about what I’m seeing and feeling and what he’s seeing and feeling. He’s letting me know what things I need to work on and things of that aspect.

HF: Do you have any thoughts on the kind of competition that you’ll be facing at defense in the Avalanche organization in the future?

WB: I think the Avs have got some deep prospects on their blueline, so there’s definitely going to be some competition there. But I haven’t really focused on that because I’m just focused on the Frozen Four right now. But I do think that being very deep in defensive prospects is good for the organization as a whole.

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF