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WWYDW (FE): You Decide the Evan Bouchard Contract

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
6 months ago
Now that we’ve got Ryan McLeod’s contract locked in for two years at $2.1 million/per, I thought it was time to spin up another What Would You Do Wednesday (Friday edition) to get everyone’s thoughts on the Evan Bouchard contract that is next up on the Oilers’ summer to-do list.
When Tyson Barrie got traded to Nashville as part of the package to bring in Mattias Ekholm, we all knew that Evan Bouchard would have an incredible opportunity before him as the team’s power play quarterback. And while there was some concern initially that swapping Barrie for Bouchard would result in Edmonton’s PP taking a step back, the fall just didn’t happen. If anything, the power play kept humming along as if nothing happened and Dad was a big part of making that happen. So now that Bouchard is due for a new contract, figuring out how much he should be paid and for how long can get complicated.
Yesterday afternoon, Cam Lewis dove into some of Bouchard’s closest comparables, and the news probably wasn’t great for the Oilers’ cap situation or the dream of starting the season with a 22-man roster.
Looking back at the 2018 and 2019 drafts, nearly all of the defenders who have established themselves at the NHL level wound up signing bridge deals following the conclusion of their entry-level contracts.
This can largely be attributed to the lower-than-expected salary cap ceilings from the past few seasons. Teams have less salary cap room to take long-term contract gambles on young players and those players can also be advised by their agents to wait until the cap finally rises by a significant amount before locking into what might be the biggest contract of their career.
The one defenceman who bucks this trend is Quinn Hughes, the No. 7 overall pick from the 2018 draft. Hughes scored 97 points over 129 games on his entry-level contract and the Vancouver Canucks signed him to a six-year, $47.1 million deal in October of 2021.
But while the Canucks were able to get Hughes signed long-term, they could only get star forward Elias Pettersson signed to a three-year bridge contract at the same time. Again, this is the result of the post-pandemic salary cap reality. Pettersson’s bridge deal expires next summer and he’ll be one year away from unrestricted free agency with a huge salary cap increase right around the corner.
Circling back to Bouchard, the Oilers have $4,282,500 in open space for his contract, but at least $775k needs to be set aside so that the team can afford to carry another extra skater on their active roster. With that in mind, the goal for the Oilers should be getting Bouchard signed for $3.5 million or less.
Given what Dobson, Miller, and Byram have earned, Bouchard would be taking a discount if he signs for two or three years at $3.5 million annually. The two sides need to either agree to a cheap one-year deal or another contract needs to be moved out for the Oilers to be able to afford to sign Bouchard for multiple years while maintaining roster flexibility.
Now that we’ve given you a little bit of background on what Bouchard’s peers have done over the last few seasons, it’s time to put on your fanciest GM cap and figure out what it’s going to take to make this contract work. Given the $4.28 million the Oilers currently have to work with under the cap, there’s not a whole lot of money to spend unless you decide to roll into the season with a 21-man roster. Of course, in this scenario, you’re the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers and you’ll have to figure out what the best play for the team is now and in the future. So let’s get to it.
QUESTION: You are moonlighting as Ken Holland and have to offer Evan Bouchard a new contract. What does that look like for you given where we’re at under the salary cap? What is the term? What are the dollars?
In 82 games played in 2022-23, Evan Bouchard posted 8 goals and 32 assists for 40 points to go along with a +6 rating, 28 PIMs, and a 57.4 CF% while averaging 18:31 in TOI. In the playoffs, Bouchard added four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 12 games before the Vegas Golden Knights eventually bounced the Oilers.

EVAN BOUCHARD’S CAREER SO FAR

SeasonTeamLeagueGPGAPtsPIM+/-PGPGAPtsPIM
2018-19Edmonton OilersNHL71012-5
2018-19London KnightsOHL45163753402811417216
2018-19Bakersfield CondorsAHL83586
2019-20Bakersfield CondorsAHL547293642-10
2020-21Sodertalje SKSwe-1236111776-3
2020-21Edmonton OilersNHL142352-2
2021-22Edmonton OilersNHL811231432810163694
2022-23Edmonton OilersNHL828324028612413174
NHL Totals1842366896028719268
 

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