Hobey Baker winner Butcher to become unrestricted free agent

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For the second straight year, the top U.S. college hockey player will test the NHL's free-agent market.

Will Butcher has decided to become an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15, his agent, Brian Bartlett, told BSN Denver's Adrian Dater.

The 22-year-old defenseman, who won the 2017 Hobey Baker Award in April, was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013. While they couldn't agree on a deal, Bartlett isn't completely slamming the door on his client signing with the club.

"We informed the Avalanche of that decision," the agent said. "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, and therefore we're going (to the 15th)."

Butcher helped lead the University of Denver to its eighth national championship in April while collecting 37 points in 43 games.

He reportedly turned down an Avalanche offer of a two-year deal this spring.

Last summer, the Buffalo Sabres acquired 2016 Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey's negotiating rights in a trade with the Nashville Predators, but the dynamic forward chose to become a UFA and signed with the New York Rangers on Aug. 19.