THE TRADE (VERSION 2)
It’s been a couple of years now, but please recall the great summer of 2016. The Oilers had just finished out of the playoffs for the eleven billionth consecutive year, and the roster still had some glaring holes. Notably, the Oilers needed a top four defenceman on the right side. They needed one bad.
Fortunately (for Ray Shero), Peter Chiarelli was taking calls. He was probably making one too, and he eventually parted with Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. Chiarelli got his lunch taken on the trade, though Adam Larsson fit the bill as a top four defenceman. The nice (?) end to this story is that the Oilers got into the playoffs in 2016-17 for the first time in eleven billion years. Larsson helped, but so did a supernova Talbot and a 100 point season from Connor McDavid.
What does it all mean? The Oilers weren’t very good this year. Talbot was shaky at times, and the club allowed buckets more goals in 2017-18 then the year prior. The club needs another top four defenceman on the right side.
Fortunately, some wacky picks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft allowed Evan Bouchard to fall to the Oilers. Chiarelli snapped him up and I think he was the best player available at the time.
Evan Bouchard debuts at number 5 in our Top 25 Under 25. Let’s take a look at how the panel got him there.
THE BOUCH IS LOOSE
Not every day I get to make a Jerry Doucette reference. Ask your parents.
Evan Bouchard is a dream selection for the Oilers. 6’2” and 193 lbs for this right shot defenceman and he’s got a lovely breakout pass. Bouchard captained the 2017-18 London Knights (OHL), and his numbers were sparkly (25-62-87) in 67 games. A best-case scenario for Bouchard and the Oilers organization would be to let him tear up the OHL for one more year before moving him along. Because of Edmonton’s fairly volatile blue line, there might be other plans in the works.
Bouchard has signed a three year entry-level deal with the Oilers.
JOINING THE RUSH
You’ll see on this goal how Evan Bouchard will effortlessly join the rush. This is something that the Oilers badly need, as the current Larsson-Benning-Russell trio lacks this element in their game. Bouchard looks completely comfortable on the enemy side of the blue line.
Get him the puck. Let him shoot the puck. It looks like the Oilers may have finally found someone to run their power play into the next decade.
Bob McKenzie says Bouchard “reminds him of Larry Murphy”, which is pretty good company to be compared to. Bouchard was ranked fourth by NHL Central Scouting for North American skaters, he ranked 7th on McKenzie’s list. There’s a huge opportunity for the Oilers here with Evan Bouchard.
THEY SAID IT
“A highly intelligent all-around defenceman that plays with poise and can shift the pace of play in a multitude of ways. Showcases smooth four-way skating ability and loves to get involved in all situations - especially when that situation happens to be an up-ice rush. Has a polished offensive skill-set which includes well-timed passes and a sneaky, erratic shot. Goes with the high percentage play and makes smart decisions. Could work on strength behind his shot. Defensively active, cutting off lanes and always staying in excellent positioning. Reads cues well in all three zones and seems to stay a step ahead. All-in-all, a well-rounded defender with great hockey sense and work ethic”
He’ll be 19 in October, and there’s a better than zero chance that he’ll find himself with a 9 game tryout to start the season. Edmonton’s signing of Jakub Jerabek last week helps solidify the blue line a little more (and it likely moves Kris Russell over to the third RD position to start the season). The Oilers can take Bouchard for that nine-game ride without activating his entry-level contract, but Bouchard would almost certainly be best suited to get back to business in London for another big season.