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Will Butcher has turned down the Avs to become free agent

Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher has turned down the Colorado Avalanche's contract offer to become a free agent.

The Avs took the defenseman in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and held his rights until midnight Tuesday. When he didn't sign, he became a free agent.

According to multiple reports, the Vegas Golden Knights, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres are among the teams Butcher may visit. Other reports have the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins showing interest.

Butcher led the University of Denver to the national championship this past season. He scored 9 goals, added 23 assists and was a plus-19 in 39 games.

On an entry-level contract, the 22-year-old Butcher would be a nice addition under the constraints of today's salary cap. Teams are restricted to signing him to a two-year contract with a maximum annual salary of $925,000.

In a statement released Wednesday by the Avalanche, the team said it made Butcher a maximum offer in April. "He wanted to test the market and that is his right and decision," the Avalanche said.

The Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, native became just the seventh defenseman to win college hockey's top honor. Overall, he had 28 goals and 75 assists for 103 points in 158 games with the Pioneers.

Butcher becomes the second consecutive Hobey Baker winner to pursue free agency after completing his college career.

Last summer, Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey turned down contract offers from Nashville and Buffalo before signing with the New York Rangers , for whom he had 16 goals and 27 points in 80 games. Nashville drafted Vesey and traded his rights to the Sabres once it became clear he wasn't going to sign with the Predators.

The Denver Post first reported that Butcher would become a free agent.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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