If someone told Will Butcher when he was signing his contract with the New Jersey Devils last summer that he would not only play in the Stanley Cup playoffs in his rookie season, but also score a goal in his first postseason home game, he admits he doesn’t know how he would’ve responded.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound defenseman, who in 2016-17 capped off his four-year college career at the University of Denver by captaining the Pioneers to the NCAA national championship and winning the Hobey Baker Award, still had to make the team. Meanwhile, the Devils were coming off their fifth consecutive season without a playoff appearance.
"You never know what’s going to happen," Butcher said. "At the same time, you always have confidence in your team, yourself and your abilities. It would be a surreal feeling if it happened."
Butcher paused. "It was a surreal feeling when it happened."
It sure was.