Seravalli: Edmonton Oilers hoping to bridge Evan Bouchard
Photo credit:© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Evan Bouchard’s season has been a rollercoaster.
Now in his second full season with the Edmonton Oilers, the first half of the year was tough for Bouchard. Heading into 2023, the young blueliner only had three goals and 14 points in 31 games with a -12 rating. It wasn’t looking good for him and the frustration was building, especially with it being a contract year for him.
The turning point came when Ken Holland traded Tyson Barrie and acquired Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators. The move allowed Bouchard to now play on a historic powerplay, which he would quarterback, and play with a veteran defenceman in Ekholm. Bouchard already had success in the past playing with a veteran in Duncan Keith last season and the idea has worked again.
Since the trade happened, Bouchard has 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) in 20 games, which is the most by an Oilers defenceman. Additionally, he is now +12 and is added more ice time rising to almost 22 minutes a night. Against the rest of the league, his 18 points have him 9th in the NHL which is more than Quinn Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and Adam Fox, all of whom have played more games.
The questions now swirling Bouchard are not about his on-ice production but instead what his new deal looks like. Today, on Oilersnation Everyday with Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli from Daily Faceoff had this to say about the future of the Oilers young blueliner.
“I don’t see a path as currently constituted for a long-term deal. I think they (Edmonton) are thinking and hoping to bridge. If it gets to the point where is not willing to sign a bridge and only wants long-term then it is not out of the realm of possibility that he (Evan Bouchard) gets traded this summer. I don’t think it is something the Oilers want to do; however, they are dealing with a tight salary cap. There was an avenue to extend him over the summer to a bridge deal. He (Bouchard) bet on himself by waiting to see how the year played out. Now moving forward, I think you bet on yourself and pocket whatever the number turns out to be 2 years x $3.5 million, 2 years x $4.5 million. You put that in your pocket and then work for that $8 million deal after that.”
Tyler Yaremchuk added that maybe a bridge deal would not be the worst idea for Bouchard.
“The other part of this too is from a player’s perspective, if you look at the back half of the season you have had with Mattias Ekholm you are going to play with him again next year. I understand wanting to cash in a little now but if he (Bouchard) improves next year we could be talking about a guy that puts himself into the $7 or $8 million range.”
The Bouchard contract will be the talk of the summer in Oil Country. With that said, Ken Holland has done a good job in the past of retaining upcoming free agents and signing them to team-friendly deals. Last summer alone, Holland brought back Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, and Brett Kulak in contracts that look extremely valuable now.
The idea that Frank suggests of Bouchard getting traded would be a last resort. If that were to happen, then something went incredibly wrong during the discussions that left both sides sour. For now, it is fair to assume that the deal will get done, especially if dicsusions already occurred last summer.
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