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Seravalli: Evan Bouchard Negotiations Linger On

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Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
9 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers season came to an end prematurely on Sunday night, as the city of champions watched their team fall 5-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights in game six. Many believed this team was built to win a Stanley Cup, but evidently, the hockey gods had different plans for this team. 
The team won’t be the same next season with changes expected to come. Whether they are major or minor, one player the team would like to bring back is restricted free agent Evan Bouchard. The former first-round pick had an impactful run post-trade deadline and into the playoffs, resulting in a better case for the dollar figure on his next deal.
In the 21 games to close out the regular season, Bouchard scored five goals and 19 points along with a +12 rating. Before that, he had only three goals and 21 points in 61 games. Evidently, the change in role and defensive partner in Mattias Ekholm helped him tremendously. In the postseason, He finished with 17 points, which is five more ahead of Morgan Rielly. The next defenceman on the list that is still playing is Miro Heiskanen with nine. 
Everything fell right for Bouchard after the trade deadline. Now, he has much more ground to stand on in regard to his next contract and the finances surrounding it. Frank Seravalli from Daily Faceoff joined Oilersnation Everyday with Tyler Yaremchuk on Monday to discuss the future of the Oilers’ young defenceman. 
“In a perfect world, the (Edmonton) Oilers wanted to get something done a while ago. I don’t know how quickly this is all going to come together because part of this is a leverage issue. Bouchard is in a spot where because of the way his contract broke he doesn’t have any arbitration rights, which is where players start to gain some leverage. The only thing that he could dangle over the Oilers is that he could be offered an offer sheet. If you are somebody that wants to put a wrinkle into the Oilers and how they do business, then maybe Bouchard is a player you end up targeting. You can see how critical and important he is to their blueline.”
Offer sheets aren’t something that occurs that often. Since 2006, only ten players have signed an offer sheet with the most recent coming in the 2021 offseason. The Carolina Hurricanes offered Jesperi Kotkaniemi a 1 year, $6.1 million deal, which Montreal didn’t match meaning they received a 2022 1st and 3rd round pick. Of those ten offers, Kotkaniemi was one of only two that haven’t been matched. The other was in 2007 when the Edmonton Oilers offered Dustin Penner a 5 year, $21.5 million deal when he was with the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks received a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick in 2008. 
“The Oilers would like to get Bouchard on a two-year bridge deal somewhere in the $4 million range. Will he be interested in doing that? There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. You may have to bite the bullet in a short time to save yourself a little less of a headache later. The Oilers don’t have a lot of money to play with so we shall see how much they can create with the guys they move off; as well as, whatever the cap goes up by this summer.”
Bouchard is the biggest piece of business the Oilers need to worry about this summer. Without him, the right side of this defence, which is already a weak spot on this team, gets significantly duller.
Of course, there are still holes in his game, however, the potential is too good to hesitate on getting this deal done. He proved his value over the last 30 games and what he can bring to the organization for the next 10 years or longer.

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