Even allowing for all of the huge swings in player rankings because there are so many scouting outfits and publications putting out lists heading into the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, it’s probably wishful thinking, to say the least, to believe that London Knights’ captain Evan Bouchard will still be available when the Edmonton Oilers pick 10th.
Bouchard, a six-foot-two, 193-pound right shot D-man who put up 25-62-87 in 67 games with the Knights this season, is a slick passer and a power play quarterback who’d check just about every box for the Oilers – not only right now but down the road. Every team wants and needs players like Bouchard, who steadily climbed scouting rankings this season.
Like I said, it might be too much to ask that Bouchard is available when the Oilers pick, but I’m going to look at three prospects over the next week or 10 days who are rated in the range of where the Oilers will select, and he’s the first. Bouchard would certainly qualify as a wish-list prospect for the Oilers, but, again, if you look at the range of how players are rated, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive top-10 list behind Rasmus Dahlin.
Here’s the ranking range on Bouchard.
International Scouting Services (ISS): 6th
Craig Button of TSN: 10th
Central Scouting: 4th among NA skaters
McKeen’s Hockey: 7th
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet: 8th
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: 7th
The only outlier I could find on Bouchard in terms of rankings came from Corey Pronman of The Athletic, who has him 18th (he also has Noah Dobson, another D-man who could go in the range of the where the Oilers pick, ranked 20th). Keith Gretzky has yet to email me his final list, but based on consensus it would seem the Oilers would be thrilled to get Bouchard 10th. Dare to dream.
Here’s what’s being said about Bouchard:
- “A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team’s transition game. He’s one of the top offensive defensemen in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play.” – Central Scouting
- “He thinks the game well, shoots the puck a ton, and is as strong as an ox, which will allow him to log big minutes down the road.” – Cosentino
- “In a pack of slick skaters, Bouchard brings other tools. He’s big, he’s got a great shot and may be the best passer in the entire draft class.” – Kennedy, THN
SAYS HE’S READY TO GO
At the NHL Combine last weekend in Buffalo, Bouchard was scrummed. Bouchard was asked when he thinks he’ll be NHL ready. “For me, I think it’s next season,” he said. “I know it’s a big jump and it’s a big step, but I’m really working hard this summer to be ready for next season and take things one step at a time. The main goal is to focus on getting ready for main camp and turning heads there and going from there.”
I can’t say for certain, and neither can you, if Bouchard will still be on the board when the Oilers pick. It’s an interesting aside, though, that MyNHLDraft.com, which compiles prospect rankings from around the league, has Bouchard going to the Oilers in their 2018 mock draft. I don’t put a lot of weight in mock drafts because they seldom, if ever, play out as projected. What I do know is Gretzky will run to the podium screaming Bouchard’s name if he’s available with the 10th pick.
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