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New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher ...
Bill Kostroun, The Associated Press
New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher (8) skates with the puck as Florida Panthers left wing Henrik Haapala (25) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, in Newark, N.J.

NEW JERSEY AT COLORADO, 7 p.m. Friday, ALT, 950 AM

Spotlight on Will Butcher: The Devils’ rookie defenseman from the University of Denver makes his first appearance in Denver against the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. The Avalanche’s inconsistent interest with Butcher since he was drafted and the team’s league-worst 48 point season last season led to the player — the 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner as national player of the year — using his college free agency option and cut himself loose from the Avs on Aug. 16. Butcher, who played four years at DU and served as captain as a senior while leading the Pioneers to the 2017 national championship, signed with New Jersey on Aug. 27 and became the first NHL rookie defenseman to ever record nine assists in the first six games of a career. Butcher, 22, is playing third-pairing minutes with the Devils but leads the team with 10 power-play points and is in command of the No. 1 power play.

NOTEBOOK

Devils: They completed a major trade Thursday by acquiring defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional draft pick from Anaheim, sending forwards Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round pick to the Ducks. Vatanen will step into the top-four role, and since he’s a right-handed shot, he could slot in on the right side where Steven Santini, Damon Severson and Ben Lovejoy play. Henrique, 27, was among New Jersey’s most popular players, having played 455 games for the team since the Devils drafted him in 2008. Henrique scored the overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals to send the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. … They haven’t played since Monday, when they lost 3-2 to the visiting Florida Panthers.

Avalanche: The Avs are 8-2-1 at home this season (8-2-0 at the Pepsi Center) with a 29.5 percent success rate on the power play. Colorado was 2-of-5 on the man-advantage in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win over Winnipeg and has scored a power-play goal in nine of 11 home games. … Center Nathan MacKinnon is tied for first in the NHL with three game-winning goals, including two in OT. He has produced 19 of his 28 points at home This month, MacKinnon’s 15 assists and 20 points ranked first among all NHL players. … Center Alex Kerfoot is seventh among NHL rookie scorers with 17 points (eight goals). His eight tallies and his seven power-play points are each tied for fourth among first-year players. … Defenseman Nikita Zadorov has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his career. His three goals on the season tie his career high — what he amassed in 60 games for the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15. Top-pair defenseman Erik Johnson had eight shots against the Jets on Wednesday, one shy of his career high of nine (March 24, 2016 vs. Philadelphia). … Colorado continues its five-game homestand Sunday against Dallas and Tuesday versus Buffalo.

Mike Chambers, The Denver Post

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