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

  • Tubby

    Listen to the guy. Bouchard wil take a lot of time to develop and the Oilers need to let him play anywhere other than at the NHL level. On a solid, defensive team he might be able to stay but NOT with the Oilers. The game is too fast.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I agree, I listened to the first scenerio & clearly Bouchard was playing forward with another player filling for him in that situation. He has A+ skills when playing a forward position & in that situation the team pulled the switcharoo…
      All great rushing defensemen play this way, especially when teamed with someone who can switch effectively.
      Paul Coffey was often caught in the offensive zone & that did not make him a bad defenceman.
      This guy is going to be exciting to watch… To most peoples point, I be cautious rushing him though. But he does seem to have some skill.

  • Spydyr

    Unless he absolutely falls on his face he will play with the Oilers this year because that is the Oiler way. They expect kids to fix their shortcomings and rush them.

    • OriginalPouzar

      No, its not the Oilers way as the last CHL drafted d-man to stick with the team for the season in his draft plus 1 year was Paul Coffey.

      The Oilers have not rushed d-men to the NHL.

      I don’t doubt that Bouchard will get some NHL games at the beginning of the season but that doesn’t mean that he will be on the roster for the entire season.

      He may come in and play a handful of games and get re-assigned.

      He may stay until close to Christmas but not play every game. I’m not concerned about playing 10 games. Burning a year of his ELC is not a big deal. The 40 games on the roster threshold (which goes to a year of service towards UFA status) is much more important.

      He could be on the roster for 38 games (play 9 or 25) and then get re-assigned, captain Team Canada and finish the year dominating the OHL and working on what the organization has asked him to work on.

      Seemed to work for Mr. Draisaitl.

      • camdog

        He’ll learn more about the defensive game practicing with NHL players for 30 some games than he will playing against guys younger than him. That might not be understood in these parts though.

        • OriginalPouzar

          Nurse went back to the OHL for his draft plus 1 and his draft plus 2 seasons.

          He then turned pro and was assigned to the AHL. Unfortunately, due to injuries in the NHL, he only played 9 AHL games before he was re-called.

          Yes, one could argue that call-up was too early, however, Nurse actually played quite well early in his NHL career.

          He struggled in his first year when additional injuries hit and he was moved up the lineup and ended up playing top pairing minutes with Sekera on his right side (which he is not as effective on).

          For the most part, this organization has done very well with Nurse’s development and he has improved materially year after year since his draft year.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            Yes, we can say all that, but many veteran scouts at the NHL level are saying that Bouchard IS NHL ready. Why is that? Why would we second guess seasoned experts that do this for a living & listen to this unheard of “scouting apprentice” who is trying to make a name for himself on social media?
            Heck, this could be Spydyr or Trainwreck for all we know? Give me a break.. Bouchard is AWESOME, a great pick & don’t let anyone wreck your summer….

  • camdog

    Right now Bouchard’s an AHL d-man that can’t play in the AHL. If the guy watched him all season, good bet he’s on to something. It’s too bad Bouchard isnt going to play in a league next year that’s suited to his development. This more than anything is a reality check, Bouchard likely isn’t ready for the NHL next year and this is all that Farkas is saying and he’s likely right.

    • DARYL G

      Look if you really watched or played hockey you would know that playing 35mins a night makes you conserve energy and drift which is what the idiot on the video was saying without letting you know he was playing those minutes. I don’t know why he is down on Bouchard and don’t care if you can not make a fair analysis then you have no place evaluating anyone.

    • DARYL G

      You think that is all he is saying. Seems to me he is saying he has no hockey sense is out of position and is not aware of the threats on the ice. My conclusion is that he is saying Evan is not a first round pick!

    • DARYL G

      That’s what you take away he is not ready for the NHL. Seems to me he is saying that he is out of position has no hockey sense and is not aware of the threats on the ice. He is saying that Evan is not a first round draft pick.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006



    I ****ing quit.

    Not even a new season and some of the people have already turned on him. This is a new low even for you ***holes!

  • TKB2677

    Oh good. As per usual, more write up about what’s wrong with an Oilers player. The kid hasn’t even attended his first official day of of training camp yet but we get to hear about his “short comings”. Oilers fans can’t possibly be happy with a player or say something positive. They have to dig and dig and dig until they find something bad with him then zero in on the bad and destroy him for it.

    The guy checks off every single box that the Oilers desperately have needed for years. He scored 87 pts. There are multiple scouting agencies who watched the crap out of this kid and say he does everything well. He played 35 mins a NIGHT which is insane. When you play that much, you are going to make the odd mistake and have the odd bad game. It’s just reality. No one is perfect all the bloody time.

    I am taking ZERO stock in this video, it’s one guys opinion and I didn’t even watch it. When everyone says one things but one guy says the opposite, usually the one guy is off his rocker and just looking to stir the pot. I hope that Oilers fans who are supposed to be educated hockey fans take my same approach.

  • AJ88

    “Certified USA hockey coach”? Every coach in most N. America sports require certification. If Mr. F is using this to prove his credibility then I would not be taking his word as a hockey expert. “Aspiring hockey scout”, doesn’t every ON member think they are an aspiring hockey scout?

      • oildawg99

        Fans often see what they want to see with a player – when they are own on him all they see are the negatives. When they are riding high (usually this means winning) they will overlook those very things they say they hated about a player earlier. I would actually like to see that video

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Number 1: He’s 18, he plays in the OHL, scoring is always higher in the OHL and QMJHL than the WHL, his defensive game will come. Number 2: He is, at best the 9th defenseman in Edmonton, that includes the 6 starters, Bear, and Gravel, all a ahead of Bouchard, so I think its a stretch he even sees 9 games in Edmonton. He’ll go back to Jr., end the season in the AHL and start next in the AHL because they don’t need to rush him.
    I didn’t watch the video and I am not going to because everything the Oilers do gets over analyzed and critiqued anyway.

  • ubermiguel

    So he still needs to work on the defensive aspect of his game, no surprise, he’s young. In camp and pre-season I hope he watches Larsson from the red line in. Combine Larsson’s defence with Bouchard’s offensive skills, that would be a #1 pairing D-man.

  • Clayton

    The video is bang on in terms of the critique of EB’s defensive game…it needs a lot of work. It is a big reason that he dropped to 9 for the Oilers. There aren’t questions about his offensive side…but the D side needs to develop significantly. While that video was harsh the analysis is accurate for anyone that has seen EB play many games. So…reality is EB is like a typical D-Prospect…has some strengths in his game, and has some areas to develop…and like pretty much every other draft pick there is some element of the unknown about whether or not he will develop like the Oilers think he will or not…welcome to the realities of drafting 18 year olds! The piece that scares me a bit is the ‘hockey IQ’ piece-that can be the hardest thing to develop-sometimes guys just have it and some never find it. Which is EB?

      • Clayton

        Offensive Hockey IQ…yes…defensive hockey IQ side of the game has significant question marks. He wouldn’t be the first D-man ever drafted to have to work on his defensive side of the game.

    • DARYL G

      You do know he was playing 35 mins a game right? You learn all sorts of bad habits conserving your energy. If he was playing 22-25 mins he could put out at a much higher intensity and not drift as the idiot on the video was pointing out. He doesn’t even mention the high ice time so the whole video is a waste of time. Bouchard is not NHL ready right now but with better time management he will lose these bad habits.

  • oildawg99

    Video reeks of someone trying to show they are smarter than they actually are.

    Also, anyone else tired of Oiler fans constantly thinking they have it all figured out on how a player should be developed? The kid has not even been in camp yet and some of them have just decided where he should be to start the season. No two players are alike and very few players develop in a straight line.

    How about we see how he does in camp and if the team is better with him in the line-up then he plays, if not, then there is more of a decision to be made.

    • The Future Never Comes

      This is the most annoying aspect of the comments section, everyone thinks they have the perfect formula for development as if they have perfect foresight. “Give him 9 games, send him back he needs another year, keep him here because there is nothing else to learn down there”. How about for this prospect and every other prospect, we watch them in camp and as teams narrow down their rosters to actual NHL players, can our prospects still still hold their own and even flourish. Also, they need to outplay the fringe players like Aberg and Benning to even win a spot on the team. If they bring more to the table than keep them, if not send them down to develop further. Not to hard to grasp.

  • Fat Steve

    I have always thought that about his routes. His agility is poor and his choices are poor. He may develop in to something special. My guess is no, and that’s why he slid so far, for the most part scouts see his flaws and know they will only be exacerbated at the NHL level. He has potential but he needs a ton of work. I’ll say this, I wouldn’t have drafted him over Dobson or Wahlstrom.

    • DARYL G

      You make this idiotic statement without really seeing him play. He does have to work on his edges yes and he needs more acceleration off the mark. He does not need a ton of work he needs to be given the right playing time and more effort per shift you just can not do that playing 35 mins a night.

  • Pizzy

    This article is a disgrace. I think you should stick to walking around construction projects with your goofy Helmut and leave the sports articles to someone else. No class

  • chezzychez

    Some of the critiques Farkas are saying are fine but man that was harsh. Didn’t pick out a single nice thing about him and didn’t mention that the KID played close to 40 mins a night on a team that leaned on him to even make it to the playoffs. Maybe Bouchard pissed off Farkas’ off the ice to earn a review this scathing. Especially after posting some ridiculous numbers this year as an 18yr old D-man.

  • TKB2677

    Shouldn’t a player actually turn pro and play a little bit before anyone can comment on his “development”? He was drafted barely a month ago. Plus as we have seen in the NHL, a player can be taught defense. It’s pretty hard to teach a player offense. I would assume that if you score 87 pts as a dman, you have pretty good offensive instincts and hockey IQ. He had 44 pts and was a plus 30 in his second year of junior which is pretty good as well.

  • McNugent

    The next article should be based around a Bouchard video highlight reel. Let’s see some of the kids best plays and let us comment on that.

    Positive Balance.

  • oilfan4ever

    I can recall many of the so called experts saying Paul Coffey was too soft to play d and should be converted to a forward. I have long forgotten who these guys were and in a couple years nobody will remember who Farkas was.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Yeah. Next he’s going to say that reaching 87 points was an anomaly and won’t do it again. Look I get there might be some problems in the defensive end, but who doesn’t? Honestly who cares!? We need OFFENSIVE production from the blue line and Bouchard brings that. We have more than enough defensive minded defence man. I don’t care if Bouchard has defensive issues. He needs to focus on offence, because that is what we drafted him for!

    On a side note, are we sure he’s not 35 years old?


    Bouchard is playing 35 mins a night way too much he learns to conserve energy which is the wrong thing to do, he needs to play 22-25 minutes tops and put out every shift. Yes he does drift a lot but the coach is doing him no favors by doing this. Watched him at the prospects camp looked good has good hockey sense a great shot and passes well. What he needs is better acceleration and edge work and better time management by his coaches.

  • TKB2677

    If he was lousy at defending and didn’t have very good hockey sense, he’s not scoring 87 pts as a dman and his coach sure wouldn’t be playing him 35 mins a night. Junior hockey coaches need to win games too to keep their job. So your aren’t going to play guys who hurt your chances of winning games.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      How many pucks actually went in London’s net based on Bouchards bad defensive play? This guy is an American self centered wanna-be, that’s just learning the game & looking for attention. It must be summer, as we are all commenting on this chit?

  • Kneedroptalbot

    A few General comments:
    1. Defence is the most difficult position to play (excluding Goal).
    2. Transitioning from Junior hockey to Pro is difficult (not very many step in and start).
    3. Comparing these video clips to players like Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse (3-4 yrs NHL experience) clearly shows the importance of developing defenceman.
    4. Decision making can be taught, transition skating (fwd/back) can be improved.