By Dave Turner
As the season nears, the New Jersey Devils are still searching for offense to fill the void left by the departed and former No. 9, but there’s a new face in town that is poised to light the lamp this year.
You may have heard the name Bobby Butler thrown around, but up until this point he is a relatively unknown entity.
In a typical Lou Lamoriello move, Butler was inked from the Ottawa Senators during the offseason and all signs point to him becoming a familiar face with Devils fans very soon.
So what about Butler suggests he can succeed in New Jersey?
Though his NHL resume isn’t exactly stellar, he has shown some strong indicators of what he can do.
In two years up on the big club in Ottawa, Butler finished with 21 points (10g, 11a) in 36 games in 2010-2011, to go along with five power play points that year. He totaled 16 points (6g, 10a) in 56 games in 2011-2012.
While those numbers don’t exactly floor you, he’s an aggressive forechecker who possesses a strong wrist shot and has a knack for creating goals off turnovers. He is strong on the puck and is always a threat in the offensive zone.
If his highlight reel is any indication of what he can do, this should be a great fit.
The 25-year-old has been Albany’s best player in the AHL this year. Butler lead the team with 23 points (15g, 8a), five of those goals coming on the power play. The 6’0, 185-lb right winger from Marlborough, MA is also +8 on the year.
While these numbers aren’t earth shattering, he has exhibited a scoring touch and because he plays right wing, he becomes a much needed entity on the big club.
So far in training camp, he’s been on a line with Travis Zajac and Mathieu Darche. It is possible that once Ilya Kovalchuk returns from Russia, Butler may begin the season on that line along with Kovalchuk and Zajac. Certainly, with that kind of talent around him and substantial ice time, he’ll get a chance to show what he can do.
Butler has also seen time on the first power play unit in training camp. Pete DeBoer is giving him a chance and he’ll have every opportunity to show what he can do.
Don’t expect 30 goals (in an 82-game season) from him, but what he can be, is a solid 20-goal scorer who can perhaps hit the 50-point mark if he logs time on one of the top two lines, as well as the power play.
This move is another that may prove to be genius for Lamoriello. Think of where Bryce Salvador came from. He was a solid, but unheralded defenseman in St. Louis when the Devils traded for him in return for Cam Janssen. Now he’s reportedly being named captain.
Not to say that this is a surefire success, because nothing is guaranteed, but over the next few weeks we will certainly begin to find out if he can be a solid contributor.
He’ll get his first chance to prove himself out on The Island on Saturday.