38
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers assign Evan Bouchard to London Knights

According to Twitter, the Edmonton Oilers have assigned Evan Bouchard back to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. 

Since being selected with the 10th overall pick at June’s NHL Draft, Evan Bouchard has been at the front of mind for Oilers fans everywhere because of his potential to be a long-term solution to the Oilers puck moving woes on the back end. He’s big, he has a bomb of a shot, and can move the puck up ice at an elite level which makes him a rare commodity on the Oilers’ defensive depth chart. No one expected Bouchard to fall to the Oilers at 10 and after seeing him play in his first handful of NHL games you can see what a gift that was. With time, I believe that this is a guy that has the ability to make a tremendous impact for this organization and seeing him play only reinforced that idea. The problem, of course, is that expecting him to handle that job right now is a little too much too soon, and I think the Oilers made the right call in sending the 19-year-old back to the OHL for further seasoning.

I know some folks said there is nothing left for him to learn at the junior level but I strongly disagree. By going back to London, Bouchard will get the opportunity to play the minutes needed to work on and round out the deficiencies in his game under the watchful eye of Edmonton’s scouts. That extra playing time is a luxury that he wouldn’t have had in Edmonton and the Oilers made the smart choice in making sure he gets it. While there are areas of his game where he already excels, the offensive side in particular, there were times when Bouchard struggled in his own end which is not at all uncommon for a young defenceman trying to learn the ropes at the NHL level. Not only that, Bouchard will now have the opportunity to compete for a spot on Canada’s roster at the World Juniors Tournament, a valuable experience in itself, and also for a Memorial Cup with a London Knights team that is built to compete.

In an ideal world, the Oilers would have been able to send Bouchard to the AHL to further his development there, but that’s not an option right now so that makes going back to London the best spot for him right now. The biggest thing at this stage of Bouchard’s development is that the Oilers need him to play and in going back to London, he’ll get a truckload of minutes there that he wouldn’t get nor is he ready for yet in Edmonton. From the asset management side of things, Bouchard’s assignment not only extends team control over the player for another year but also give the Oilers another protected contract in the upcoming expansion draft which will be immensely valuable in itself. All in all, this a smart choice by the organization from a hockey side and an asset management perspective, and I’m thrilled to see them thinking ahead with this player rather than trying to have him learn on the job at the NHL level.

So for now, we must say goodbye to our new dad and wish him well on his journey in London. Personally, I’m excited to see how the rest of his season will play out and how much better he’ll be for it by the time next year’s training camp rolls around. All the best in London, Bouche! We’ll see you soon.

In seven games played, Bouchard had one goal, 10 shots on net, two PIMs, and a -5 rating.

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
2018-19 Edmonton Oilers NHL 7 1 0 1 2 -5
NHL Totals 7 1 0 1 2

Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Account, 11/02/2018 – 9:06 am MT



  • OilersBro

    Oilers fans, let’s just stop and appreciate what we finally have. Healthy competition and depth. Take out players like Bouch, Yamo, and Jesse and we have older players like Chiasson, Rattie, and Garrision ready to contribute. We don’t have to rush prospects even if they’re good enough to make the team – we can do what’s best for their player development. Sure guys like Marody, Benson, and McLeod would have made this team in the past, but now they get lots of ice time, leadership experience, and development in the A/OHL!

  • Bills Bills

    This is good news for all parties. Even if Evan doesn’t see it now. But I get the impression that he is mature enough to recognize why and what he needs to do.

  • OriginalPouzar

    So happy that they brought up Kevin Gravel and have left Ethan Bear in Bakersfield for now – Hopefully Bear is allowed the privilege of a good stretch of games and isn’t forced up early due to injury (or poor play).

    • Gaz

      I’m not so sure that the two decisions are related. Remember the only thing that anyone remembers from their intro stastics class in University: correlation does not imply causation!

    • ed from edmonton

      I think your are not far off. I don’t think the Oil are looking beyond winning games now and if Bouchard was clearly one of their best 7 dmen he would be here. But I think that he hasn’t shown he is clearly better than Garrison, Benning, Gravel or even Bear (is he still injured?) so there is little reason to keep him here.

  • Dan 1919

    Not crazy about this. IMO he has NHL level talent right now. Playing him against 16/17 year old teenage kids is not going to develop and push him the same way growing his game against adults would. Hopefully he does what Mathews did and goes to Europe for the year. And hopefully they make it so these guys can play in the AHL in the future rather than just juniors.

    • Redbird62

      Most players in the OHL are between 18-20. If Bouchard makes Team Canada, most of the competition will be 19-20. Bouchard as an NHL draft choice out of the OHL having signed a contract is precluded from going to Europe. I wouldn’t expect the NHL and the Junior leagues to change this arrangement any time soon, since it benefits both leagues, and there are so few 18-19 old players who would be better off in the AHL, that changing the rules would not be worth it.

  • The future never comes

    Simply put, this is the right move. He needs to work on his foot speed, having more urgency in puck retrievals, and to be more aggressive in his own zone.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      All that and he’ll develop the confidence to do everything as second nature.
      The thing I really liked about Bouchard is that he didn’t clam-up when he made a mistake.
      He made a lot of mistakes, but that’s great at his level, as it shows he wasn’t afraid to make them (unlike some other prospect players on this team). By him shaking off his mistakes and continually trying to be effective he actually was pretty effective. As “B’milk” said, the Oilers will still be working with him to give him development projects with the Knights and those mistakes will become less & less. He will play the game as second nature & know were and what to do, without thinking about it. Now, as said earlier, if we could only get one of our other top prospects to develop this confidence?… We’ll see.
      An Oakville Blade Eh? Of which I am an alumn. Anyone know if Vern Quigley (H.Coach) is still around? It was Jr. B when I was their. Not sure what league it is now?

    • Arfguy

      Glad you included Jones. I think he has the potential and has shown a few signs that he might be one of the more underrated defencemen the Oilers have in their system.

  • jesse says yep

    So does this open up a spot on the 25 man roster or is there another move to make once Rattie comes back? I cant imagine the Oil taking Cagguilla or Chaisson out of the lineup right now, so it comes down to JP, Yama or Kassian getting pushed down.

  • T Ambrosini

    Good on management to send him back to London. He got some time to skate with the Oil, netted a goal and looked very promising. We have a great prospect in Bouchard, nice to see they are thinking ahead in terms of player development and the looming expansion draft.

  • TKB2677

    I like how the Oilers handled Bouchard. Keep him up, give him a taste of the NHL and slow play those 7 games. Let him be around the team, practice with the team and especially spend time with Yawney learning. With 3 years of junior already under his belt, it would be better if he could go to the AHL but that can’t happen. He will be a player next year to watch I believe.

    The next move they need to make is once Rattie is healthy, send down both Yamo and Puljujarvi. I would have them both in a meeting, tell them how important they are to the team, their future as top 6 guys. Then have a conference call with Woodcroft telling him in front of those 2 how critical they are and how the Oilers want them to play a ton and they be given extra attention. Then when Marody is healthy, I would send him down as well. I would call up Malone and have him sit in the press box watching.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    This cant be seen as a negative. It allows Bouchard to play and hone his skills, gives him a chance to captain London to another MasterCard Cup, and allows him to play for gold at the World Juniors. Fantastic decision.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Everyone knew this was coming because for the Oilers to leave Bouchard on the roster wouldn’t have been smart at all especially if he isn’t going to play and only going to get a handful of minutes a night, I am sure they would have loved to have Boucahrd in the AHL playing better competition and a lot of minutes but that option wasn’t available it was on the roster or back to Junior and Juniors was the wise choice.

    Like Bear the Oiler and fans can see there is tremendous upside to Bouchard and like Bear areas of his game that need work, but when these two shore those areas of their game up and improve on them that is going to be two future decent D men that they have for down the road that are going to challenge guys for spots

  • Arfguy

    IMO, this was the best move for both Bouchard and the Oilers. The kid has potential and maybe a bright future in the NHL someday. I am glad that they are not going to rush him. He looked okay, but not so good that he had to stay in the line-up.

    Good on the Oilers.