Bob Stauffer: Oilers are close on Evan Bouchard contract, could reach deal with Ryan McLeod before arbitration

Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
11 months ago
We’re into August and two key members of the Edmonton Oilers still don’t have contracts. That could change soon, according to Bob Stauffer.
Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod are both restricted free agents, with the former having reached the end of his entry-level deal and the latter scheduled to go to salary arbitration on Friday. Stauffer said on Oilers Now on Tuesday that the Oilers are Bouchard are nearing a deal and that he wouldn’t be surprised if the team sorts out a deal with McLeod before his arbitration hearing.
Bouchard is coming off of a big campaign for the Oilers in which he scored 40 points over 82 regular season games and then added 17 points over the course of 12 playoff games. Ken Holland felt comfortable enough with Bouchard running Edmonton’s power play that he moved Tyson Barrie ahead of the trade deadline to acquire Mattias Ekholm.
It would be ideal to ink the 23-year-old to a long-term contract this summer but all signs point to the cap-strapped Oilers reaching a one- or two-year bridge deal with Bouchard. The Oilers only have roughly $5.5 million in open salary cap room so they’d have to move an expensive player off of their roster to afford what Bouchard would command on a long-term contract.
McLeod, meanwhile, is seeking a significant raise after doing Holland a favour last summer. Following the conclusion of his entry-level deal, McLeod agreed to a pay cut on a one-year, $798k deal to give the Oilers more wiggle room. He went on to score 23 points over 57 games during the regular season and then added five points in 12 playoff games.
If McLeod and the Oilers can’t reach a deal by Friday, the two sides will head to arbitration. The Oilers had Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi file for arbitration last summer and both players reached deals ahead of their hearings.

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