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Looking at Evan Bouchard’s defensive ability

A video ripping apart Evan Bouchard’s defensive game has been making its way around the Internet, and I’m here to discuss it with you. I should warn you all that it’s a lengthy, 22 minute video. Thankfully you don’t need to worry because I watched it all so you don’t have to. 

The video was made by Michael Farkas, and can be watched below. Michael Farkas is a writer over at The Hockey Writers, a certified USA Hockey coach, and an aspiring scout. Farkas has been breaking down the shifts of NHL prospects on his Youtube channel, and released one on Evan Bouchard back in June where he breaks down one of Bouchard’s playoff games shift by shift. Farkas doesn’t have a lot of good things to say about Evan Bouchard’s game, and spends most of the video ripping into him and discrediting his hockey sense.

I’m definitely not agreeing with everything Farkas is saying in this video. It’s obvious that he’s cherry picking all of the bad parts of Bouchard’s game. I think there are a lot of positive aspects of Bouchard’s game seen in this video that went unnoticed by Farkas, but I stand by the opinion that I’m not very qualified to deeply analyze an NHL prospect. There’s a line at the nine-minute mark of the video where Farkas says: “he throws more pucks at the net here, which is fine.” This is part of the video that discredits Michael Farkas for me. Bouchard created a very good scoring chance from this shot on net but Farkas played it off like it was nothing.

The main point he’s trying to make in this video is that Bouchard needs to improve his overall hockey sense. After watching this video, I would agree. There are many plays here where Bouchard seemed to take the lazy route. A lot of his decisions don’t seem like the logical one to take. But I can’t stress this enough: I’m typing this from my cozy leather chair behind my laptop in NationHQ with a Red Bull in front of me. Listening to Michael Farkas lean into all of Bouchard’s faults is a shock to me because he still put up 87 points last year as a defenceman and was selected 10th overall into the NHL. Bouchard’s obviously got a ton of skill that got him to where he is now, and I think what the video above is telling us is that he just needs the proper guidance and coaching to take him to the next level. Can the Oilers do the job? I hope so.

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It’s also pretty easy to tear apart someone’s shifts just by looking at one game. Even though Farkas claims Bouchard has played like this since the beginning of the season, Bouchard still could have been having a rough night when this video was taken. After watching Evan Bouchard at the Billy Moores Cup a few weeks ago, it was apparent that Evan focusses a lot on his offensive game. I can definitely see the Oilers coaching staff making sure his defensive game is up to par before putting focus on his offensive skill.

So what do you guys think? Is this video a waste of time? Should we be worried? Personally, it doesn’t make me want to panic. I think it makes a lot of interesting points, but with proper coaching and instruction I can absolutely see Bouchard going on to have a successful NHL career. I’ve already put down some of Baggedmilk’s money that he’ll win the Calder this season anyways. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Bouchard’s Junior Stats

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


  • BrandieBear

    I think he probably has merit behind what he is saying but I think that it will be easier to teach a player defensive skills then offensive skills. I think we have the right players, trainers and coaching staff to make his defensive game better.

    I also think that most players naturally develope in the NHL into a more well rounded player. In the CHL it’s easier to hide mistake but he will quickly realize that and adjust his game.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Aside from the fact that some of the comments clearly show people who have lapped this up like milk, another reason why I’m pissed about this kind of article is because of how blatantly obvious it. “His defensive game needs work”…NO KIDDING! Like seriously. Why is this even a thing. Of course his game needs work. Nobody in this league is perfect. Even Sidney Crosby, the most complete hockey player currently playing still has some things he works on.

    Another thing that ticks me off, is that HE ONLY CHOSE 1 GAME! 1 GAME OUT OF HOWEVER MANY ARE PLAYED IN THE OHL! Isn’t that like taking a look at 1 bad game by CONNOR MCDAVID and saying “oh he’s not good!” Oh wait, IT’S ALREADY HAPPENED! Looking at you Spector!

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      One more thing…

      WE HAVE TRENT YAWNEY! A GUY WHO HAS A REPUTATION FOR WORKING WITH AND SHELLING OUT GREAT DEFENCEMEN IN BOTH ANAHEIM AND SAN JOSE!

      Evan Bouchard will be FINE! I don’t know why this is an issue to begin with!

  • btrain

    Although some of the critique is valid, what stands out above all else is confirmation bias. When you pick apart a players game frame by frame, shift by shift, and you are looking for problems, guess what, you will find them……Even if its Eric Karlssen or PK Subban.
    At one point in the video he critiques Bouchard for his poor hockey sense when he follows #27 out towards the blueline. According to Frakas he should be switching out with a forward when it gets to that point because nobody does man on man coverage, etc. This is just a poor critique all around. For one, many NHL defensemen will chase a player up towards the blueline and expect their forward to cover them, especially if that player is a particular threat. In this case #27 is Aiden Dudas a 65pts in 68 game player and most likely the best player on this line. I think its wise to keep him in check. Even if it takes one slightly out of position, that player is the largest threat on the ice and forwards are equally responsible for reading and adapting to the play.
    I think what bothers me most about this, is that unless this is Mike Farkas with 14 junior games to his name, he is Mike Farkas with no hockey playing career to speak of. In either case, it always bothers when a guy, with only research and observation to back up his opinion, masquerades as a legit hockey analyst/scout. Not that people with no playing career cannot have an opinion and cannot analyze, but they should just tread lightly on the harshness when evaluating someone infinitely greater than they are. They should also no better than to use small sample size and ignore the full body of work of a player when forming conclusions about who they are as a player.

  • Arfguy

    I think Evan Bouchard will figure things out and will fit in great for the Oilers. I do have some questions about his skating, but I hope at best…his offensive numbers are at the levels of Shea Weber in his prime.

    • DARYL G

      Yes I was at the development camp and he had a lot of skills but I noticed he needs to be quicker of the mark and his edge work needs to improve but he thinks the game well despite what this jerk says has a very good pass and a great shot but will also pass when he sees opportunities. He will be at the very least a 3-4 Dman but if he can improve the skating he really looks to me to be a potential #1.

  • nbandito

    This harshly critical video just tells me that he should be in the AHL next season to break these bad habits. He’s ready for higher level hockey experience. Oh wait…

  • Rhoethbeorth

    So, do we take the word of an aspiring scout who has watched a single video, or do we take the word of numerous professional scouts who have watched him live in numerous games?

    Decisions, decisions…