Is Bobby Butler The New Brandon Bochenski?


You remember Brandon Bochenski, right?  He is the late round draft pick who came out of college and after one year in Binghamton, set the pre-season on fire by leading all NHLers with 6 goals leading up to the 2005-06 season for the Senators.  Playing on a line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, he was brought in to be that forward to round out the top 6 on a championship-calibre team.

However, once the regular season rolled around, Bochenski struggled to keep up the pace of the game.  Although his numbers were not bad (7G, 6A in 20 games), he got them in bunches.  He only tallied points in 8 of the 20 games before he was shipped off to Chicago (along with a second round pick) for centre Tyler Arnason (who turned out to be more of a disaster than Bochenski, but that is an issue for another time).   After joining the Hawks, Bochenski bounced around from Chicago, Boston, Anaheim, Nashville and Tampa, as well as most of their AHL affiliates over the next 5 seasons.  Last year he signed with Astana Barys in the KHL, where he is currently playing.

Which brings me to the comparison of Bochenski to a current Ottawa Senator, Bobby Butler.  The graduate of the University of New Hampshire came to Ottawa as a highly sought after undrafted free-agent, and Bryan Murray won the bidding war for his services.  After starting the 2010-11 season in Bingo, Butler earned two brief call-ups of four games each, during which he was held pointless.  Butler was the beneficiary of Daniel Alfredsson shutting down his season in February, as Butler was placed on a line with Spezza.  In the final 28 games of the season, Butler chipped in 10 goals and 11 assists while riding shotgun with #19, promting many to believe that he was an emerging force that could even  solve one of the gaps in Ottawa’s top 6.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way so far this season.  After missing most of the month of October with a groin injury.  Since his return, Butler has had problems finding a role and has been relegated to fourth line duty for the most part.  He has only managed 2 goals (both were in the same period) and 4 assists up to this point and is in danger of being shuffled out of the lineup when Chris Neil and Peter Regin return from injury.

Butler is a player who might be better served by playing in Binghamton, but the organization is handcuffed by the fact that Murray gave him a one-way deal in the off-season, and if they were to send him down they would still have to pay him his NHL salary.  Butler has been passed on the depth chart by the likes of Kaspars Daugavins, Erik Condra and has been replaced in the top 6 by Colin Greening.  Even Nikita Filatov has jumped over him and had been given the prime spot on Spezza’s left side during the recent lineup shuffle.

Ottawa has been hit and miss with its college prospects, and Butler has some serious work ahead of him if he wants to become one of the hits rather than a big miss.



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