44
Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers sign Evan Bouchard to entry-level contract

According to the Edmonton Oilers’ Twitter account, the team took care of some housekeeping today by signing 10th overall pick, Evan Bouchard, to a three-year entry-level contract.

It was the news that we were all expecting to happen, and today the Oilers made it official after they signed Evan Bouchard to his first NHL contract. That said, seeing this news come up was still somewhat surprising for me considering that I never expected Bouchard to be available when it was the Oilers turn to make a selection. Last year, the 6’2 right-handed defenceman put up an amazing season with the London Knights last year and actually became the first ever defenceman in Knights’ history to lead the team in scoring. That’s quite an accomplishment for the young man and you have to wonder what that means for his junior career (if there is one) going forward.

Now that his name is signed on the dotted line, it will be interesting to see how the Oilers handle Bouchard for the upcoming season and it’s another reason that I can’t wait for training camp to get here. The unfortunate part about Bouchard is that he’s ineligible to play in the AHL even though that would probably be the best place for him to get his feet wet, so it will have to be NHL or back to junior for the kid. Obviously, where he ends up depends on how his training camp and pre-season goes, but would it really be all that surprising to see Bouchard get at least nine games in based on what he did in London last year? Would there even be a rush to send him back? Considering the Oilers have been looking for a player like this for as long as I can remember, I’m very excited to find out.

In 67 games played, Bouchard put up a whopping 25 goals and 62 assists for 87 points, leading not only the Knights but also the OHL in points scored by a defender. Welcome aboard, good sir.

WHO IS EVAN BOUCHARD…

Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Evan Bouchard puts on a team jersey after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In case you needed a reminder of who we’re talking about here, Evan Bouchard amazingly slipped to the Oilers at 10th overall at this past June’s NHL Entry Draft. We don’t know why or how this miracle happened, but the Oilers lucked out when he fell into their laps without having to trade up to get him, which they were apparently open to doing. Let’s do a quick rundown of who this guy is, just in case you forgot.

Before the draft, Dusty wrote about Bouchard and how lucky the Oilers would be if they were able to get him:

“I’ve been saying all week that one of the consensus top nine prospects will be left on the board for the Oilers. Today it’s Evan Bouchard. Bouchard put up 87 points in 67 games with the London Knights, which are incredible numbers for a draft eligible defenseman. Bob McKenzie described him as the best passer in the draft. Craig Button compares him to John Carlson. The Oilers should run to the podium if Bouchard is still available at ten. When meeting with the media on Thursday Bouchard did not hesitate to say that he thinks he’s NHL ready. His numbers in the OHL would back that up, plus he already has three seasons in the OHL under his belt. I’m not saying pencil him into the line up this year but I am saying he’d probably be ready to play top-four minutes in the 2019-20 campaign.”

Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects:

“A highly intelligent all-around defenceman that plays with poise and can shift the pace of play in a multitude of ways. Showcases smooth four-way skating ability and loves to get involved in all situations – especially when that situation happens to be an up-ice rush. Has a polished offensive skill-set which includes well-timed passes and a sneaky, erratic shot. Goes with the high percentage play and makes smart decisions. Could work on strength behind his shot. Defensively active, cutting off lanes and always staying in excellent positioning. Reads cues well in all three zones and seems to stay a step ahead. All-in-all, a well-rounded defender with great hockey sense and work ethic.”

You can read more scouting reports and notes on Bouchard here.

PRE-DRAFT RANKINGS…

If you needed a reminder of how much of a steal Bouchard was at number 10 then we need not look any further than the pre-draft rankings:

  • Ranked #7 by Bob McKenzie at TSN
  • Ranked #10 by HockeyProspect.com
  • Ranked #8 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #6 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #7 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #4 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #7 by Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News

THE WRAP…

At the end of the day, the Oilers will need to be patient with Bouchard to make sure that he’s brought along at the proper pace and I know that’s something they’ll be thinking about. I think we can all agree that we don’t want to see them make the same mistakes with him as they did with Justin Schultz a few years back after they forced him into playing situations that he wasn’t quite ready for. Sure, I know there was a lot more than the force-fed minutes that led to Schultz’s demise in Edmonton, but you get the point I’m making here. Just because Bouchard has three junior seasons under his belt and seems to have an NHL noggin on him already doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s ready for NHL deployment quite yet.

Regardless of what happens and whether or not he makes the team out of training camp, you’d have to think that this is a prospect that the Oilers are going to take great care with because of his potential to do amazing things. From where I blog, I couldn’t be more excited about this player’s future and I wish that there was a way to take a peek into the future to see how this all works out. Unfortunately, all we can really do is wait to see how Bouchard plays against NHL competition when the pre-season rolls around and hope that the Oilers do what’s best for the young man in the long-term. That all said, I’m not going to be the one that bets against him because, from everything I’ve read, the Oilers got their hands on an absolute gem and it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see him force his way into the plans come October. Either way, having his name signed on a contract is a good day for Edmonton Oilers fans.

What do you guys think?

BOUCHARD’S CAREER SO FAR

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
2014-15 Oakville Blades OJHL 1 0 1 1 0
2015-16 London Knights OHL 43 2 15 17 24 15 10 0 2 2 2
2016-17 London Knights OHL 68 11 33 44 24 30 14 3 4 7 6
2017-18 London Knights OHL 67 25 62 87 54 23 4 1 4 5 6

Source: Edmonton Oilers, Verified Twitter Account, 6/17/2018 – 1:00 pm MST

  • OriginalPouzar

    I’m very interested to see what the potential performance bonuses look like.

    He’ll obviously have the max salary and signing bonus for an initial cap hit of $925K but the amount of the performance bonuses could become a factor on where he plays most of next year. We are so close to the cap that the risk of him hitting any of his bonuses leading to a cap penalty is real.

    • Oilman99

      Performance bonus would mean he makes and sticks with the which will result in somebody being sent down, or a trade happening so this should not be a problem. Let’s just see him make the team first.

      • OriginalPouzar

        That’s not quite true.

        If he makes the team, it will likely be at the expense of Gravel who has a cap hit of $700K – right there, its an increase of $225K on the cap without factoring in any performance bonuses.

        They may carry 8 d-men while on the road so he will be in replacement of, likely, Brad Malone who has a cap hit of $650K leading to a $275K increase in our cap hit.

        Any bonuses that vest will be in addition.

  • As it stands today, it appears there’s room for him on the roster. Would another year in the OHL elevate his game? Likely not much. Definitely give him the 9 games as a 3RHD and put him on the 2nd PP for a bit. If he’s amazing, then keep him.

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Benning
    Sekera/Russell – Bouchard
    Gravel

    • oilerjed

      Sorry but I would definitely be replacing Benning with Bouchard rather then the reliable veteran Dman that we are hoping will be traded in the next year or so. Benning has to earn his spot and Russel is a far better defenseman

  • Jimmer

    This is so unfair but what the heck:

    Doughty (RHD): OHL(190 regular season games – 157 points – 0.83 points per game)
    Bouchard (RHD) OHL (178 regular season games – 148 points – 0.83 points per game)

    Like I said unfair to compare but it does give me chills looking at this.

  • Bills Bills

    A buddy of mine is a LK season ticket holder and absolutely loves this kid. His biggest compliment was actually about his maturity. So if he doesn’t look over excited, don’t be surprised. If he comes in determined enough he may just make this team. This is one of the rare situations where a player SHOULD be going to the AHL directly after his draft.

  • CMG30

    I admire your attempt to moderate expectations among the fan base regarding Bouchard. I’m afraid that you’re too late. There’s sizable chunk of people out there who seem to think that Bouchard is going to step on the ice and it’s going to be Pronger part 2. Sadly these are the same people who are going to be calling him a bust halfway through the season.

  • oilerjed

    BM- “ineligible to play in the AHL even though that would probably be the best place for him to get his feet wet, so it will have to be NHL or back to junior for the kid.”

    How is this negotiated? Is it a CBA item or a separate negotiation with the CHL? Seems to only benefit the junior programs at the expense of players development. I would love to see this fixed as well.

    As fro the Shultz comments, want guaranteed playing time part of the offer that landed Shultz in ETown in the first place? Can we really pin bad player development on this one or should we look more at the guaranteed offer to entice him to play here?

    • Honestly, I have no idea but I’d guess the leagues would want a say in it as well as the CBA side but I’m really just making things up. That said, I’d love to see each team allowed one junior-aged player to play for their AHL team under special circumstances. Bouchard coming off an 87 point junor season would qualify for me.

    • KRad

      The rule is in the NHL/CHL contract transfer agreement (which is negotiated between the two leagues). I think that it is mostly there to protect the CHL from losing all their prospects or having players on bad teams skip out. But the CHL itself claims the rule is there to protect the players so they aren’t pressured to play in older leagues (and potentially not finish school). In any case, I’ve never the NHL try to renegotiate it. Technically, the CHL holds the cards though because the drafted players are under contract with them and they could restrict any players from entering the NHL or signing NHL contracts (though if they didn’t have a deal with the NHL, I think they would see all the top prospects stop taking the CHL route).

  • OilCan2

    I say he makes the team. Let’s face it: he doesn’t have much to prove beating a bunch of school boys. Not only that but his playoff beard alone should get us into the second round. PS: Tell PC to get those nine Thank You Cards in the mail this week.

  • Just facts

    Given that he is an older age for his draft, what he’s already accomplished in the OHL and by all reports is mature and processes the game well, this might be one of the rarer cases where a managed start in the NHL is preferable to returning to junior. That might mean sheltered minutes, periodic short breaks in the press box depending on play and opponent, and lots of work with Yawney who has a great reputation with young D. Ideal might be to start in the AHL but that option is not available. Obviously, it all depends on how he looks in camp, preseason and up to 9 games but so long as he is as mature as it appears and there is a plan developed and explained in advance that he buys into the NHL might be the best place for him.

  • DonEnrico

    Baggedmilk (or anyone else): Is there an option for him to come over to play here in Europe for a year? To play against men in SHL might be hos best way to improve. But I guess the CBA puts a stop to that…