Four Eastern Conference teams interested in Bobby Butler: Report
Let me start this off with a confession: I always cheer for the underdog.
Although I wasn't upset when the Ottawa Senators bought out the contract of Bobby Butler--it was a reasonable move for a team with little wiggle room on the roster--I was hoping the kid would find a new home and another opportunity sooner rather than later. My initial thoughts were that it might take mere days for him to sign a new deal, but as nearly two weeks have passed, maybe a contract for him won't come as easily as I'd thought (or maybe he's holding out hope for something better, like another one-way deal somewhere). But I was interested to read a report in the MetroWest Daily News (which I make sure to check out every morning) citing a fairly reputable source as stating that four Eastern Conference teams have expressed interest in Butler:
John Butler, Bobby's father and the former longtime Marlborough High boys hockey coach, said there's been interest from four Eastern Conference teams, as well as teams from Switzerland, Sweden and Russia. Butler's agent, Neil Sheehy, is hopeful a deal will be done by the end of next week, but said that contract talks have not yet begun.
The article goes on to explain a few other considerations that may explain why nothing's happened yet, aside from the one- or two-way nature of the contract: Butler may be waiting for a team with an opening in the top six, or he may be waiting to find out what happens with the new CBA negotiations (which could lead him to Europe).
It's tough to speculate on which Eastern Conference teams would be interested in Butler. He makes sense for a team with a lot of salary committed but with some potential openings; I imagine the Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn't have a hard time putting Butler in a position to succeed, whether alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils have openings up front, and need more firepower--Butler's not an offensive leader, but he'd offer offence in the right scenario. He could also be a nice piece for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who've invested heavily in their blue line and could use some cheap support up front.
The more I think about it, though, the more I think Butler makes sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After Phil Kessel, their second-highest-scoring right winger last season was Nikolai Kulemin, who scored 28P (7G, 21A), so they obviously have openings on the wing. Plus Butler is American from New England who was signed as a free agent out of college--all seemingly checkmarks on Brian Burke's asset list.