In case you missed it, the Edmonton Oilers have officially signed 2018 first round draft choice Evan Bouchard from a three year, entry level contract.
The 18 year old London Knights product was selected by the Oilers 10th overall in this past month’s 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Bouchard, who was ranked behind only first overall selection Rasmus Dahlin as the second best defenseman available by some scouts, somehow fell to the Oilers at 10th overall. The 6 foot, 2 inch tall, 190 pound defenseman was an absolute force with the Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this past season, scoring 25 goals and 87 points in 67 games. Even more incredible, he ranked second in the entire OHL for shots on goal last season. Not just for his team… the entire league. Not just for defensemen… the entire league.
Wow! That’s… that’s pretty incredible. To call this kid an offensive defenseman is the understatement of the century.
So, what are the odds that the kid makes the team out of training camp and sticks around for the long haul? You may recall that 2017 first round selection Kailer Yamamoto received a nine game audition with the Oilers last season before ultimately being returned to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. Yamamoto ended up putting up 21 goals and 64 points in just 40 games with the Chiefs. Could Bouchard get a similar audition?
David Staple of the Edmonton Journal certainly seems to think so:
Interesting. Bouchard looks great and all on paper, but is it really worth rushing a teenaged defenceman into NHL games? Why not send Bouchard back to junior for another year and allow him to dominate the league? From there he could come into camp next season with a little more confidence and experience and really make an impact? Then again, the Oilers have a history of getting their top picks into the NHL right away, with mixed results.
The Oilers took the slow approach to defenseman Darnell Nurse’s development and now, at age 23, the former 7th overall selection from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is finally rounding into form. The Oilers might be wise to take a page from their own playbook regarding Bouchard’s development.