On August 15, two former college hockey players became high-profile National Hockey League, free agents. Will Butcher and Alex Kerfoot, both previously drafted, can now sign with any NHL team.
Butcher is former University of Denver defenseman. A fifth-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, he has the offensive skills many teams covet. He capped off his collegiate career by winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to college hockey’s top player.
Next, is Kerfoot, a small-ish, yet highly skilled center and co-captain of Harvard’s 2017 Frozen Four team. The New Jersey Devils selected Kerfoot in the fifth round in 2012. He scored 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 36 games as a senior.
While Butcher is getting more attention, Kerfoot is sparking interest albeit a little more under the radar. Let’s take a closer look at some of the possible destinations for Kerfoot.
Where Will Alex Kerfoot End Up?
First, while they were interested in signing him before August 15th, Devils general manager, Ray Shero is on record suggesting Kerfoot would likely sign with another team. Next, there has been some thought that he would end up signing close to home with Vancouver. Kerfoot grew up a Canucks fan and apparently had a productive visit with them this weekend.
Kerfoot is the son of Greg Kerfoot, the majority owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. It’s unlikely that the senior Kerfoot is a fan of Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini. He was reportedly not amused when Aquilini was looking to bring an MLS team to Vancouver. On the other hand, maybe he would welcome having his son close to home.
Some think Kerfoot will follow the path of his former linemate at Harvard, Jim Vesey, who signed with the New York Rangers a year ago. If Kerfoot were to sign with the Rangers, he would surely hear it from Devils’ fans when the Blueshirts visit Newark.
How the Stars Fit Into the Mix?
THW contacted ice hockey broadcast analyst Craig Button to get his thoughts on Kerfoot as a fit for the Stars.
THW: The Stars are slightly over the cap and pretty deep at forward, but they’ll need to make a move for cap space anyway and having too much talent isn’t a bad problem. I could see Kerfoot competing with Devin Shore or Brett Ritchie for the last top six spot. Or worst case he starts out in Cedar Park with the Texas Stars. What do you think?
Button: Kerfoot is a mature player like Drake Caggiula was last year. Can skate & think but I see him as a 9-12 forward. Perhaps move up the lineup on an as needed basis. I don’t think he’s better than Shore or Ritchie and would be a good signing to get more depth in the organization.
Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi, like Kerfoot, is from Vancouver. Before buying the Stars, he was part of a group bidding to buy the Vancouver Canucks in 2003. You might recall that didn’t end quite well. Gaglardi and business partner Ryan Beedie sued the previously mentioned Aquilini, who would ultimately become the sole owner of the Canucks in 2008. Therefore, it can’t hurt that signing Kerfoot away from the Canucks would be a small victory for Gaglardi.
Stars general manager Jim Nill tends to acquire players out of nowhere. This move would fit that profile. The Stars could use the depth even though they are slightly over the cap.
Ted Donato and Ken Hitchcock
Ted Donato was Kerfoot’s coach for four years at Harvard. Donato played on Harvard’s 1989 National Championship team and referenced Kerfoot’s leadership in an article by SB Nation’s Jeff Cox as a similarity to the 1989 team.
“I think the one common thread is great leadership. When I think back to the ’89 team, I think of guys like Lane MacDonald, C.J. Young, and Allen Bourbeau. Some very talented guys, but guys that led us in big games. I think this group, with guys like Sean Malone and Alexander Kerfoot, Merrick Madsen, they have played well in big games,” began Donato.
“This is a group really driven by some great senior leadership. I expect us to come out and play well,” Donato continued.
Donato had a productive NHL career spanning parts of 13 seasons and 796 games. In 2000-01 he played 65 games for the Dallas Stars. Donato’s head coach back then? Ken Hitchcock. After coaching Kerfoot, you have to believe Donato knows exactly how Kerfoot’s skills would fit into Hitchcock’s system.