The New Jersey Devils made a surprising move on Friday, placing forward Bobby Butler on waivers.
Before Friday, Butler was presumed to be playing a major role for New Jersey — maybe even playing on the top line. But, that all changed as Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Butler simply wasn’t NHL-ready yet.
If Butler clears waivers by noon on Saturday, he’ll return to Albany to play in the AHL.
With Butler leaving, the door is open for a winger to join the Devils. All signs point toward rookie draft pick Stefan Matteau, who said on Friday that he will be traveling to Long Island on Saturday for the Devils opener against the New York Islanders. Members of the Devils spoke highly of Matteau when camp opened, and it only makes sense that he would make the team out of camp, at least to start.
Additionally, if Matteau isn’t put on the roster by 5 p.m. on Friday, he’ll be returned to his junior team, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, later on Friday. He can play five full NHL games before it counts as a full year on his contract.
If it isn’t Matteau, the spot would likely go to 36-year-old Mathieu Darche, who was invited to camp. Although Darche still doesn’t have a contract with the Devils, as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, he said he plans to continue to practice with the team, but he will not make the trip to Long Island on Saturday.
A lot of decisions will be made by 5 p.m. Friday for New Jersey, and there should be a good sense of who will be filling Butler’s roles by that deadline.