Should the Edmonton Oilers include Evan Bouchard in a potential Erik Karlsson trade?

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
There’s lots of smoke around Erik Karlsson and the Edmonton Oilers.
The big caveat in making a deal happen before the March 3rd trade deadline surrounds whether or not the Oilers can get the Sharks — and/or another team — to retain money taking Karlsson to a $6.5-$7-million cap hit player.
The sensible outcome for that to happen is the Oilers trading out Tyson Barrie and Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi, who would have a combined cap hit of $7.6-million (Yamamoto) or $7.5-million (Puljujarvi). I think Yamamoto is the one to trade here, but let’s save that article for another day.
So that’s the logical outcome, but what about the realistic one? With previous reports that the Sharks were asking for three first round picks for roughly 20% salary retention. If they have a hope to get that, or something equivelant, then the willingness to retain salary needs to change. That might be the case, as TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said on the Got Yer Back podcast Tuesday that a Sharks source told him they have no limit on how much salary they would retain, up to the league limit of 50%.
That’s a significant change in stance and one that should play to the Oilers’ favour. The issue with that? The Oilers are going to need to pony up.
When the Sharks acquired Karlsson, the return was massive. San Jose gave up: 2019 conditional first, 2022 1st round pick, 2019 2nd round pick, 2021 conditional second round pick, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris and Chris Tierney. The haul was undoubtedly massive. The Oilers won’t be forced to give up quite so much, but there’s some things from it we can glean about what the Sharks might want back.
The Oilers are likely going to have to part with some prospects, and there’s a good chance the team needs to move Evan Bouchard out the door in the deal. Should they do it? By all accounts, yes, they should.
In case it hasn’t been explicitly known, I’m a huge fan of Evan Bouchard. I think he’s playing too far down the lineup right now and should actually be on the Oilers’ top pair alongside Darnell Nurse. Over the last two seasons, they’ve played 655 minutes together at 5×5 and their underlying numbers are tremendous. 58.45 percent shot share, 49.12 percent goal share, 58.67 percent expected goal share, 56.15 percent scoring chance chare, 97.8 PDO. A little more puck luck their way and things look very different.
Bouchard was a top prospect in his 2018 draft year. The Oilers took him 10th. Other defencemen that went in the top 12 picks included Rasmus Dahlin, Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, and Noah Dobson. His ceiling is a high-end, top-four defenceman who can produce points. Over the last two years, Bouchard has played 2094 minutes at 5×5. Among 146 defencemen who played over 1500 minutes, Bouchard has scored 11 goals (t-8th), 33 assists (t-11th) and 44 points (t-14th).
Here’s a few more of Bouchard’s individual rankings among those defencemen:
  • 15:30 TOI/GP (117th).
  • .32 goals for per hour (15th).
  • .95 assists per hour (14th).
  • 1.26 points per hour (12th).
  • 7.39 shots per hour (3rd).
And in terms of his underlying numbers among those defencemen…
  • 65.78 shot attempts for per hour (6th).
  • 52.05 shots attempts against per hour (t-24th).
  • 55.82 percent shot attempt share (8th).
  • 2.78 goals for per hour (t-34th).
  • 2.75 goas against per hour (t-68th).
  • 50.26 percent goal share (t-86th).
  • 3.08 expected goals for per hour (t-5th).
  • 2.55 goals against per hour (t-36th).
  • 54.72 percent expected goal share (19th).
The production from Evan Bouchard — even amid a sophmore slump this season — is tremendous. He’s a player now, and is going to be a player for a long-time. As hesitant as I am in moving him, it’s Erik Karlsson we’re talking about here. It’s not like the Oilers would be trading Bouchard for a 2nd and a fourth round pick like they so stupidly did with Jeff Petry. There’s a significant difference.
At 32-years-old, Karlsson looks rejuvenated. He’s playing as well as he did in his prime, and it’s evident by watching him play that’s he’s back to the top of his game. Aging players are always a concern, but we’ve seen elite players play into their mid-to-late 30s with ease. I think Karlsson is the kind of player who could do that, and that’s why the Oilers need to be all-in.
The smart play is to hold out on Bouchard and Philip Broberg, for that matter. Try and include picks and any bevy of prospects to sweeten the pot. If not, then so be it.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

Check out these posts...