My reply to this was getting long and I was doing a bit of research so I decided to make it a quick and dirty article. Please note that most of the information comes from a very good Cult of Hockey article (specifically the graph) by David Staples. I’m just adding some observations to the already very good article.
I was asked by bwar:
Honestly who was the last defenseman to score 87 points in their draft year and go back to junior?
… He was highest scoring defenseman in the league.
Luckily, someone has done this work for me:
Specifically, point 8:
As for players in this Top 20 who kicked NHL butt as rookies, there’s Cam Fowler, Aaron Ekblad, Drew Doughty and maybe Seth Jones, if you stretch the definition of kicking butt until it’s more like a punch on the arm. So four out of the 20 made big as NHLers as rookies but three of those four guys were taken at or near the top of the draft. Fowler was drafted in Bouchard’s range. So maybe Bouchard is the new Fowler. More likely, if we’re looking for a positive spin, he’s the next Morgan Rielly, Dougie Hamilton, Alex Pietrangelo, or Ivan Provorov, all players on this list who eventually became strong NHLers, but all needed at least one more year in major junior.
Please note that almost none of those guys with similar stats to Bouchard made the jump in their draft + 1 year. Let’s look at the Top 3 guys that did the same as or better than Bouchard.
Ellis actually did better than him and didn’t make the NHL for 2 more years, didn’t get good till 4 years later.
Anthony DeAngelo also did better than him. I admit I had to google him. Turns out we play him this afternoon. He’s also never had more than 15 points in a season or played more than 40 games. He is 22 and was drafted in Round 1. No longer with the team that drafted him (Arizona).
Ryan Murphy. Again, I had to google him. Drafted by Carolina in Round 1 (12th). Also, no longer with the team that drafted him. He is now 25 and has never played more than 50 games in a season and has never had more than 15 points in a season.
I hope this adequately answers the question of what recent guys who lit up the OHL did in their draft plus 1 year (and after)?
Also, Bouchard was the FOURTH D taken in this draft. He is not the best D out of the 2018 draft class. There were 3 guys taken ahead of him.
Rasmus Dahlin is also in the NHL and is considered generational.
Adam Boqvist was taken 8th overall and was sent to the OHL to play for the very same London Knights.
Quinton Hughes was drafted 7th overall by a rebuilding Canucks and was sent back to the NCAA.
Coincidentally, the fifth Dman taken was Noah Dobson at 12 by the rebuilding Islanders. He’s back in the QJMHL right now.
Let’s remove generational talent and first overall pick Dahlin out of this. Is there a reason to believe that Bouchard is that much better than Boqvist, Hughes and Dobson? Coincidentally, all of those teams (Blackhawks, Canucks and Islanders) are not playoff threats this season. They are all in some sort of rebuild and need help. Yet they all sent their higher rated Dmen back to develop further.
Last, the London Knights produce more high end NHL talents than countries like Switzerland, Finland and the Czech Republic. I can’t think of a better place for a future NHL player to go. They are beyond elite at creating NHL talent. If you took all the London Knights alumni in the NHL you would have a Stanley cup winner. Here is some of the alumni in the NHL:
Matthew Tkachuk, Olli Juolevi, Vitor Mete, Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak, Bo Horvat, Max Domi, Nikita Zadorov, Remi Ellie, Olli Maata, Andreas Athanasiou, Seth Griffith, Vladislam Namestnikov, John Tavares, Nazam Kadri, Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner, Cory Perry, Marc Methot, Steve Mason, Justin Stolarz, Rick Nash, Dennis Wideman and Chris Kelly.
This is not a team I worry about sending my prospects to at all. If it’s good enough for 8th pick overall Adam Boqvist, it’s good enough for 10th overall Bouchard. If the Blackhawks had drafted Bouchard instead of Boqvist (and they had that option) do you think he would be in the NHL right now?
13 minutes a night with Kris Russel is certainly a way to go but it has as much precedent as paying Koskinen 2.5 Million out of the KHL. Maybe Chia knows something I don’t? Maybe all the scouts were wrong? The other 9 GM’s that didn’t take him had worse scouts than the Oil? It’s all possible but I’m looking at a franchise with an extremely poor history of developing Defenseman and an even worse history of utilizing players not drafted in the Top 5 into quality NHL players.
Ultimately, I love Bouchard and I ABSOLUTELY think he’ll be a tremendous player for us in the future. In fact, every article I’ve written has mentioned the fact that 2 years from now we could have Larsson, Bouchard, Nurse and Klefbom as a legit Top 4 all under very reasonable financial terms.
However, he is on the team because Chia simply hasn’t given his coach any other options. We only have 3 legit Top 4 players (and Nurse isn’t cemented in that role by any means yet) and then a whole bunch of nothing. That is on Chia and his complete lack of talent in acquiring Dmen for our Oilers in his 3 year tenure.