Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Bouchard’s Bonus Structure

Evan Bouchard signed his first NHL contract yesterday. It was the standard three-year entry-level contract with a $925,000 base, which is the norm for first round picks.

However, the bonus structure of his deal is interesting and suggests the Oilers believe he has a pretty good chance to make their team.

Bouchard doesn’t have any “B” bonuses, which isn’t surprising, considering Darnell Nurse and other defenders selected outside the top-five did not have “B” bonuses either. The “B” bonus is the massive bonus. Connor McDavid’s was $2 million and it would kick in if he achieved just ONE of the following: Top-ten in either goals, assists, points or points-per-game, or if he was top-five in the Hart, Selke or Richard trophy, or was a first or second team all-star. He achieved all of these the past two seasons. In case you’ve been in a coma, he’s really good.

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Bouchard’s “A” bonuses are interesting. He has a different bonus structure in 2018/2019 than he does in the following two seasons.

This coming season he may not earn more than $500,000 in total aggregate “A” Bonuses. The final two years of his contract he can max out his “A” bonuses at $850,000, which is the maximum any player can receive.

This coming season he’d have to reach three of the following bonuses to pocket $500,000 (he will receive $212,500 for each bonus):

  • Top four in Ice Time (TOI) (aggregate and/or per game) among defencemen (minimum 42 GP)
  • Ten goals
  • Twenty five assists
  • Forty points
  • .49 points per game (minimum 42 GP)
  • Top three in +/- among D-men (minimum 42 GP)
  • Top two in blocked shots among D-men (minimum 42 GP)
  • NHL All-Rookie Team
  • Selected to play or plays in  NHL All-Star Game
  • NHL All-Star Game MVP

Essentially, he would only receive $75,000 on the third bonus, because he’d have made $425,000 on the first two and can only max out at $500,000 this season (or next season if his contract slides and he returns to junior).

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The lower bonus maximum in season one is somewhat unique, and could be interpreted two ways. The Oilers feel he has a good chance of making the team this year, and with them being so close to the cap they want to minimize their bonus overages. Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto are the only other players who have bonuses, and Yamamoto’s maximum bonus is $230,000 while Puljujarvi has $850,000 in “A” bonuses and $1.65 million in “B” bonuses, but he won’t hit them. He’d need to be top-ten in the NHL in goals, assists, points or points-per-game.

Bouchard being limited to $500,000 in his first season illustrates the Oilers might believe he could make the team and contribute. It is difficult to say how realistic his chances of making the team are at this point, but we do know the Oilers would love a right-shot, puck moving defender who could help on the powerplay.

Is Bouchard ready? I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone does until they see him in the preseason.


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

Even if he makes the team and stays on the roster all season, could he hit three bonuses?

I’d safely say there is no chance he makes the All-star team or wins MVP. Only three D-men in the Pacific division make the AS game. So that leaves eight potential bonuses he could reach.

Last season, rookie defenceman Will Butcher had 39 assists, 44 points, a 0.54 points/game, was top-three in +/- for the Devils and made the all-rookie team. He maxed out at $850,000 on his “A” bonuses.

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Charlie McAvoy also maxed out his bonuses in assists, PPG, +/-, TOI and making the all-rookie team.

Mikhail Sergachev reached three bonuses with assists, points and PPG. He missed his goal bonus by one.

Sergachev was 19 years old, McAvoy was 20, while Butcher was 22.

And prior to last season we have seen others reach their bonuses as well.

In 2014 Torey Krug tallied 14-26-40 and had a 0.51 PPG.

In 2015, Aaron Ekblad produced 12-27-39 with a 0.48 PPG. (John Klingberg produced 11-29-40 with a 0.62 PPG, but he didn’t have bonuses in his contract).

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In 2016, Shayne Gostibehere scored 17-29-46 with a 0.72 PPG.

In 2017, Zack Werenski produced 11-36-47 with a 0.60 PPG. Brady Skjei had a $425,000 max and hit it with 34 assists and a 0.49 PPG.

Ekblad was 18, Werenki was 19 while Gostisbehere, Klingberg, Skjei and Krug were 22.

Can Bouchard produce at 19 like Werenski, Sergachev and Ekblad? It is possible, but producing big numbers as a 19-year-old defender is very difficult.

Bouchard will get an opportunity in the preseason, and I’m guessing a few games early in the regular season to show he is capable of contributing at the NHL level. And while much of the focus will be on his point production, he will need to show he is capable of defending if he plans to stick past nine games.

I think the bonus structure in his contract suggests the Oilers believe there is a chance he could help them this season, which is why they lowered his bonuses.

**Bouchard will be my guest today at 2:20 p.m. MST on TSN 1260.***

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Vanoil

    Didn’t Bouchard out-perform Ekblad in the OHL in their respective draft seasons …. Ekblad: 58 gp, 23-30-53 pts, +7, 91 PIMs (play-offs: 9 gp, 2-4-6 pts, 14 PIMs); Bouchard: 67 gp, 25-62-87 pts, +23, 54 PIMs (play-offs: 4 gp, 4-1-5 pts, 6 PIMs). That’s a pretty good comparable at the very least. Ekblad’s rookie NHL stats (@18 yrs): 81 gp, 12-27-39 pts, +12, 32 PIMs. Not sure why they would send him back to London…

    • Jason Gregor

      You are comparing Ekblad 17 season to Bouchard as 18 year old.

      When Bouchard was 17 he produced 11-33-44 in 68 games. That is a more accurate comparison.

  • neojanus

    I will say this regarding young players in the world of sports today: I think the philosophy of overly sheltering them is beginning to change. Young players are showing abilities now to just not make a team, but to really make an impact right away. The NHL is moving in a direction that rewards smart hockey and speed, while also limiting some of the physical tolls that existed even six years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bouchard can make this team and have a positive impact on the game. If he’s given bottom pair minutes, but an opportunity on the PP, I see a spot for him without worrying whether he’s rushed. He’ll have to earn the spot, of course… but I don’t know that we should rule out any player based solely on youth anymore. I don’t know that Bouchard has any reason to be in the WHL. Playing in Europe probably hinders an aspect of the NA game of hockey these days (one of the issues that I think affects Puljujarvi).

    It’s not just in hockey that we see a trend like this. Look at what Mbappe did for France in the World Cup, or what bringing a youthful structure to England did.

    Young athletes are extraordinarily well-trained these days, with more tools at their disposal than many of the “older” athletes that we tend to rely upon.

    Just my two cents.

    • CaptainCanada94

      Two Cents, worth a dollar. I could not agree more. If he earns the spot, that would be fantastic.

      Although our Defence is not top 10 in league, it has come a long way from the bottom like it was during the decade of darkness. Cracking this lineup is much different then cracking a line up in 2014-15 featuring Keith Aulie, Brandon Davidson, Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Brad Hunt, Klefbomb, Nikitin, Nurse (rookie)

      • Daryl Katz

        @CC94….wanted to cry when i read that pathetic lineup of supposed NHL calibre d-men! and you wonder why we could never win anything? the fans knew this but the Oilers so called “management” of the day did not.

        • Kepler62c

          Honestly, I think they did know. We’ve seen in the Chiarelli era how hard it is to acquire NHL Dmen even when you are making that a top priority.

          I feel the previous management lacked the ability to actually address the situation, not the ability to recognize the issue. They threw 4.5M at Nikitin to get him to come here, Chiarelli had to throw 4M at Russel, both were overpays but one actually addressed the issue of a lack of NHL defenders. And if anyone wants to say Kris Russel isn’t an NHL defender, I’d point to Nikitin finishing his contract in the AHL while Russell is a lock for almost any NHL teams top 6.

    • daryl

      If some how improves his skating over the next 2 months maybe but what I saw at the prospects in Edmonton didn’t fill me with hope he just doesn’t look ready now and to rush him would be a crime. The worst part of all this is he will return to junior but if the Oilers send a skating coach with him maybe it wont be a total waste. The junior circuit needs to amend their agreement with the NHL three years of junior should allow players to move to the AHL.

  • El Oilero

    Let’s not forget we have Bear in the system. Can Bouchard out compete Bear for a slot?
    Sekera – Russell
    Nurse – Benning/Bear/Bouchard
    Alternatively, we could move a LHD and have Benning/Bear/Bouchard compete for 2 spots.

  • daryl

    There is one more point he was playing 35 minutes a night with the Knights and seemed to pick up some bad habits you have to conserve energy and was not putting out at a 100% on the highlite reels I watched. The Oilers need to have him play no more than 25 minutes a night at full theottle he will need to do that at the NHL level.

  • daryl

    Did any of you actually watch Bouchard at the Edmonton prospects tryout? Bouchard is not great off the mark and could use improvement on the acceleration side as well as edge work. He does have a lot going for him he has a good shot from the point can really pass and thinks the game well, but he does not look NHL ready now. Hopefully the Oilers will keep him for the 9 games then return him to junior really wish he could go to the AHL but that’s not going to happen.

    • Jason Gregor

      No. He had signed a contract with London, like all junior players. Auston Matthews was a rarity. He was a late birthday, had fulfilled his two year obligation with US National team, and hadn’t committed to a NCAA team or a CHL team. Rare situation. Junior teams have to release players to go to the NHL, which they do, but they wouldn’t do it to go to Europe.

      • Hi Jason, Canuck fan here. Can’t London loan Bouchard to a European team? We had Juolevi under contract but loaned him to TPS in Liiga (Finland) to play under Sami Salo’s guise. The contract slid so we still have 3 years on his ELC.

        • Jason Gregor

          London can, but they have to agree to it. Joulevi wanted to go back home, and London did him a favour. I’d be surprised if Edmonton would want Bouchard playing on bigger ice surface for a year over playing in OHL.

  • VK63

    Can Bouchard produce at 19 like Werenski, Sergachev and Ekblad? It is possible, but producing big numbers as a 19-year-old defender is very difficult.

    If he runs the point on the first unit PP, he shall have the afore mentioned Connor McDavid feeding him sweet sauce.
    Given that.
    Highly unlikely.

    Dare to dream Nation.
    Dare to dream.