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