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Assessing the Damage: Who Exactly is Chris Butler Anyhow?



Now that the dust has cleared somewhat from the deal that sent long-time Flames defender Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres yesterday morning, it’s time to step back and take a good hard look at what exactly we have to work with here–starting with the player the Flames supposedly pushed for in the trade, defenceman Chris Butler.

M&G contacted Zachary Zielonka of SBN's Buffalo Sabres blog Die By The Blade to obtain some more information on this mysterious character. 

Read on after the jump for his assessment of Butler and what the future could hold for him at the NHL level. 

Chris Butler has been an inconsistent defenseman for the Sabres all through his three year career in Buffalo. At times, his play can be defensively responsible and then he has a brain fart that leads directly to a goal. It also hasn’t helped that he has been caught in a numbers game on the blueline as the Sabres have a bunch of good young defensemen that they have been rotating in and out of the lineup. Once he was paired with Tyler Myers, his game got better but that could be an effect of the quality of teammates rather than the actual player.

Butler isn’t going to wow you offensively as he only had two goals in 49 games. He wasn’t used very much on either the power play nor the penalty kill as he somewhat lost favor with coach Lindy Ruff during the season and was a healthy scratch multiple times this year. He doesn’t shoot much either as he had the lowest amount of shots among our defensemen this season. All in all, you guys are getting a defenseman that has the skill sets to become something halfway decent, but still needs to grow.

Not exactly a glowing review to be sure, but when placed in context by circumstances and underlying stats by Flames Nation's Robert Cleave, Butler's performance thus far becomes a touch more palatable: 

I’m not really expecting much from Chris Butler. He wasn’t much more than a bottom pairing defender in Buffalo, although the St. Louis native did manage to be on the good side of the outshooting metrics without starting in the other team’s end all the time. He was the only semi-regular Sabre defenceman to have a ZS number under 50%, which does suggest that he survived against the competition he faced more of less on merit. He’ll join the stable of 5th-6th-7th D on the payroll, and barring significant development on his part the likely best case scenario for him is be part of the third pairing.

We're certainly not looking at a superstar here; Butler may not even become a regular in the Flames' lineup given the abundance of bottom pairing defenders that Robert discusses in his article, but if managed properly on third pairing minutes by Brent Sutter and Co., he is likely capable of outplaying the opposition and isn't going to bleed shots against, which is a good starting point considering there is still room for growth in other facets of his game. 

by Hayley Mutch