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Frank Seravalli thinks Evan Bouchard can be one of the best defencemen in the NHL

Edmonton Oilers Evan Bouchard
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
30 days ago
It’s safe to say that Evan Bouchard’s breakout performance in the 2024 playoffs has taken his game to new heights.
After all, he is fresh off becoming the third fastest defenceman ever to hit 40 career playoff points and has seen the other side of his game improve. There have been many more highs than lows for the 24-year-old, which is why he sat third on the Oilers in scoring before Game 5. Not bad for a guy who is making just under $4-million a season.
What makes this even more impressive is that he has been playing this well while going up against one of the best defencemen in the league in Quinn Hughes. The Norris Trophy finalist no doubt had a phenomenal regular season, but he finished only ten points ahead of Bouchard so the gap between the two is not as wide as some may think. And up to this point, the latter has come out ahead as the better of each team’s number one blueliner.
DailyFaceoff’s Frank Seravalli certainly believes that, as he proclaimed when he appeared on The Fan Pregame for Sportsnet 590 The FAN yesterday.
“In this series, in these playoffs, Evan Bouchard has been, I think, on a different, better level than Quinn Hughes. I think Quinn Hughes has been very average,” he said. “Did he make some really strong plays at the blue line in Game 4? Yeah, he did. I thought that was the most assertive he looked in this series. But by no means has Quinn Hughes been a game changer and that’s exactly what Evan Bouchard has been for this team.
“This playoffs has put Evan Bouchard on the map in terms of being in that conversation among the five, seven, 10 best defensemen in the entire league.”
It’s hard to argue against what Seravalli has been saying here because Bouchard has performed exceptionally up to this point in the postseason. And it is not just because he is putting up a ton of power-play points; he has formed a dynamic partnership with Mattias Ekholm and helped elevate the forwards’ play in front of him. The Oilers seem to be moving the puck a lot and getting a good cycle going whenever Bouchard is on the ice and it feels like they are always on a power play even when it is even strength.
The strong traits of being a great PP1 quarterback, the point shot, and a good on-ice vision were always there for him. But combine that with the added confidence and the other elements of his game improving, it results in a defenceman who is arguably right up there with the likes of Hughes, Cale Makar, and Adam Fox as the best in the NHL.
When it matters most, the continued offensive production from Bouchard is right up there among the all-time greats and is only 24 years old. Suffice it to say that Edmonton has a good one on their hands and no question will be their number one guy on the blueline for the next decade.
Bouchard will certainly not be snubbed out of a Norris Trophy finalist next season because the playoffs have shown he is beyond ready to ascend to new heights. At the very least, he has been the much more productive and impressive player in the first two rounds compared to Hughes.

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