Bobby Butler, another one of David Poile’s waiver wire acquisitions, had a decent year for the Predators and truly came into his own toward the end of the season. Hopefully, this will be another feather in Poile’s cap, like Clune was for Nashville this season.
From Then to Now
Bobby Butler has already been on three different NHL teams in just four seasons in the NHL (only three games in his first year with the Senators). He saw some good minutes with Ottawa where he scored 21 points in 36 games in 2010-2011. However in 14 games with New Jersey earlier this year, Butler only scored two points and had a -6 rating.
The change-over to Nashville wasn’t an immediate impact, but he scored a point in his sixth game with the Predators and would go on a modest three-game point streak. He closed out the year with nine points, scoring four in his last five games.
Beyond the Stats
Butler seemed to be the gel that the 3rd/4th lines were missing since Tootoo went to Detroit this off-season. Many players were inserted into those lines for the Predators to no avail. Butler, however, flourished in this role with the sheltered minutes that would allow those lines to take advantage of mismatches on other teams. He was one of the leading forwards in Relative Corsi at 6.6 although his overall minutes skew the amperage of his Corsi rating.
The Best of Butler
Scoring the game-tying goal against Chicago while getting an assist on Kevin Henderson’s first NHL goal was Bobby Butler at his best. He had two multi-point games on the year (the other against Columbus) and his work ethic and scoring capability will serve him well going into his RFA status.
Where Does Butler Fit?
He fits perfectly on the 3rd and 4th lines as an offensive threat that can play more minutes if needed and could be a decent second line powerplay forward given his nose for the net. If a player goes down, he can play bigger minutes, especially the more time and experience he has in Nashville’s system.
The only thing he has to work on is his defensive prowess as every year the mantra of Coach Trotz is “defense first”. If his Corsi ratings are a clue to what he can bring, a good offensive effort might prove more beneficial to a good defensive effort from Butler.
FINAL GRADE: B
Given that he wasn’t touted to do much after being signed off waivers, Butler played a decent, average game with moments of offense similar in comparison to when Jerred Smithson was a Predator. If he can take his game to another level with a solid mix of defense and offense, next season could truly be a coming out party for Butler.