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Why the Penguins Traded Will Butcher; Dubas Builds Goodwill



Pittsburgh Penguins trade, Will Butcher
Will Butcher: Photo Courtesy of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded defenseman Will Butcher to the Minnesota Wild Thursday but received only a player who has spent the majority of his time in the ECHL as a return.

On the surface, the trade is lopsided against the Penguins, but that’s why sources say Penguins’ president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas did Butcher a favor, which also served to build goodwill between Dubas and players.

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Sources expressed that Dubas did right by the player by sending him to an organization in which he could play, and the move shines a positive light on Dubas because players in similar situations see the Penguins organization will factor in the player’s best interest, too.

It had become obvious that Butcher’s path back to the NHL was blocked. The Penguins have 11 defensemen with NHL experience and nine who have been NHL regulars including John Ludvig and Ryan Shea, who at different times earned a spot in the Penguins lineup this season.

Butcher was occasionally a veteran scratch with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which further complicated his path back to full health and the NHL.

Butcher, 29, has 275 NHL games experience mostly with the New Jersey Devils, and recently recovered from an undisclosed injury to play 14 games with WBS. He also missed part of the 2020-21 and much of the 2021-22 season due to injuries before spending all of last season with the Texas Stars of the AHL.

The Minnesota Wild are dealing with blue-line injuries, including losing Jared Spurgeon for the remainder of the season. The Wild have only seven defensemen on each of their NHL and AHL rosters, including Butcher. There should be ample opportunity for ice time at the level they deem appropriate.