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About Evan Bouchard: A New Deal for Dad

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Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
8 months ago
There’s not much doubt that signing defenceman Evan Bouchard to a new contract is the most significant single bit of business that Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland needs to take care of this off-season. Not a news flash.
What we don’t know is what the new deal for the 23-year-old blueliner is going to look like. Simply put, how much and how long makes sense with Bouchard having produced 8-32-40 this season as a follow-up to his 12-31-43 of 2021-22? It’s also worth mentioning that Bouchard doesn’t have arbitration rights.
Frame that in the reality that Holland doesn’t have much cap room with which to navigate and get Bouchard and his other free agents and UFA’s signed even if he can loosen up some money by trading away Kailer Yamamoto or maybe Cody Ceci.
The best bet, and this isn’t a news flash either, is a bridge deal for one or two seasons. My best guess is an AAV in the neighborhood of $4 million. A bridge deal isn’t ideal for a player who finished the season as impressively as Bouchard did – he produced 5-14-19 in the final 21 games of the regular season and 4-13-17 in 12 playoff games — but it’s the likeliest scenario given the cap constraints. 

BY THE NUMBERS

Mar 20, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer (47) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers defensemen Evan Bouchard (2) during overtime at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off a contract with an AAV of $1,596,667, Bouchard had a pedestrian first half to the season before coming on big-time in the second half, specifically after being partnered with Mattias Ekholm after his arrival from Nashville. Bouchard looked and performed like a completely different player after Ekholm arrived.
In his first 41 games, Bouchard tallied 3-11-14. In the final 41 games of the regular season, he was 5-21-26. All told, Bouchard scored 6-20-26 at even strength, 2-11-13 on the power play and 0-1-1 shorthanded. He averaged 18:31 per game in ice time. It’s also worth mentioning that Bouchard scored 15 of his 17 playoff points on the power play.
Add it all up, factor in just under $6 million in cap space as of now, and the need to look at signing free agents including Ryan McLeod and Klim Kostin and UFA’s Derek Ryan and maybe Nick Bjugstad, and what do you get? Like I said earlier, I come out at one or two years in term and within $100,000 of a $4-million AAV.
What say you? 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

I got a kick out of an item Brennan Delaney wrote this week about what the Oilers might do with the 56th pick in the 2023 Entry Draft and how they could use it on Swedish forward Felix Unger Sörum. I said, pardon? 
If you’re not baby boomer age, the Felix Unger part of Sörum’s name likely means nothing to you. For people of my vintage, Felix Unger is the character actor Tony Randall played alongside co-star Jack Klugman in the TV series The Odd Couple from 1970-75.
I can’t find any reference to how Sörum’s parents came up with the Felix Unger part of their son’s handle or if there’s any connection at all to the old TV series, but he’s ranked 53rd in the 2023 Entry Draft by TSN’s Craig Button.

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