The Edmonton Oilers signed Evan Bouchard on Tuesday, he is potentially the most substantial offensive defenseman drafted by the organization since Paul Coffey. Bouchard is not similar in style to Coffey, but if you enjoy the outlet pass to daylight and a defenseman who can get his shot through to the net, Bouchard will have appeal.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers badly need a new development league (will link).
- Lowetide: The news is out: Youth shall be served.
- Lowetide: The merciful end of the Leftorium.
- Lowetide: Cap decisions of 2017 may continue to hamper 2019 decisions
- Lowetide: Creating the ideal No. 2 line for the 2018-19 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Which RFA’s are the most attractive for offer sheets.
- Scott Burnside: Q&A with new Humboldt Broncos coach Nathan Oystrick.
- James Mirtle: Canada job postings.
- Lowetide: UFA’s still available who can help the 2018-19 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Analyzing the Oilers 2018-19 depth chart (including additions)
- Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors could be best Oilers AHL team in ages
- Lowetide: Handicapping the race to win jobs on McDavid/Draisaitl wings
- Lowetide: Oilers grab Tobias Rieder in free agency
- Lowetide: Frugal Oilers grab Kyle Brodziak in free agency
- Jonathan Willis: How will Oilers manage rich collection of goalie prospects?
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
NHLE (OILERS DEFENSIVE PROSPECTS)
- Craig Button, TSN: “I watched Evan Bouchard for four years. I saw him first in midget, then three years with London. Over 50 times in all kinds of different games, plus playoffs. I can tell you this: After awhile, you just say ‘he’s this good’. He’s not sexy, there’s no end-to-end rushes, there’s not dashes or flashes of brilliance. But what there is, is this great intelligence, this great ability to impact the game, great with the puck. He reminds me of Larry Murphy. I’m not saying he’s Larry Murphy, but that’s the type of game he plays.”
I like Button’s scouting reports, he gives you a real idea about the player and ability. We’re not discussing another Paul Coffey here, but rather an expert in the headman pass who possesses a big shot and offensive creativity. His skating has been the subject of much discussion, Brock Otten’s nuanced scouting report gives us the lowdown.
- Brock Otten: “He is one of those cerebral offensive defencemen. He is not a dynamic skater, although not a poor skater, his backward and lateral mobility are better than his forward because he doesn’t have that explosive first step. He runs the point on the power play exceptionally well, he picks his spots to jump into the play well, he is very aggressive in shooting the puck and does a very good job of getting his shot through to the net. He’s a very smart offensive player. He’s a good defensive player but will need to improve his play below the hash marks.” (TSN)
One of the main discussion points for fans after the signing surrounded Bouchard’s chances of making the Oilers roster this fall. I’d say the chances are very strong when considering the Oilers own history in fast tracking, Bouchard’s age (turns 19 in October) and physical maturity. The pressure point will come after nine NHL games.
EDMONTON OILERS PROJECTED 2018-19 DEPTH CHART
- Center: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Strome, Kyle Brodziak, Brad Malone
- Left Wing: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jujhar Khaira, Drake Caggiula, Pontus Aberg
- Right Wing: Ty Rattie, Tobias Rieder, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian
- Left Defense: Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Andrej Sekera, Kevin Gravel
- Right Defense: Adam Larsson, Matt Benning, Kris Russell, Evan Bouchard
- Goal: Cam Talbot, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya
This is not a roster built to go deep into the playoffs, but Connor McDavid’s presence means the playoffs are never out of the conversation. One difference between this year’s team and last? I doubt Peter Chiarelli waits on the goaltending as he did in 2017-18.
I have Al Montoya and Evan Bouchard listed as roster possibilities, you could also include Kailer Yamamoto, Keegan Lowe, Ryan Stanton, Ethan Bear. Maybe a couple of others and suspect we’ll see an invite or two from the Jason Chimera wing of free agency.
BAKERSFIELD CONDORS PROJECTED 2018-19 DEPTH CHART
- Center: Cooper Marody, Cameron Hebig, Josh Currie, Colin Larkin
- Left Wing: Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Nolan Vesey, Braden Christoffer, Evan Polei
- Right Wing: Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Vesel, Patrick Russell, Mitch Callahan, Ryan Van Stralen
- Left Defense: Keegan Lowe, Ryan Stanton, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin
- Right Defense: Ethan Bear, Ryan Mantha, Logan Day
- Goal: Shane Starrett, Dylan Wells, Stuart Skinner
Ryan Mantha’s eye issues may mean we’ll see an addition on the blue line, that may not come until closer to the beginning of the season. One hopes Mantha recovers completely, he had a promising rookie campaign in the AHL.
I’m also uncertain about what direction the goaltending will go. Stuart Skinner is probably the best in the group, but the Oilers don’t place their 20-year old goalie prospects in the starting role in the AHL. We might see Skinner in the ECHL, or even junior, this fall.
Note: In Chiarelli’s later Boston years, Malcolm Subban played in 33 games for the Providence Bruins, age 20. Perhaps that’s a new wrinkle we’ll see the for Oilers organization.
OILERS FREE AGENTS
- G Nick Ellis RFA. Retired.
- G Laurent Brossoit UFA. Signed with the Jets ($650,000).
- LD Darnell Nurse RFA. Qualified, sounds like a bridge.
- RD Matt Benning RFA. Signed, more responsibility on the way.
- RD Eric Gryba UFA. Signed with New Jersey.
- LD Yohann Auvitu UFA. Signed with Sochi (KHL).
- RD Mark Fayne UFA. Crickets on his next destination.
- LD Keegan Lowe UFA. Signed, he will push for No. 7D.
- LD Dillon Simpson UFA. Signed with Columbus.
- LD Joey Laleggia UFA. Signed by St. Louis Blues.
- LD Ben Betker RFA. Destination unknown.
- RC Ryan Strome RFA. Signed, he’ll likely play No. 3 center.
- RC Kyle Platzer RFA. Destination unknown.
- LC Grayson Downing UFA. Likely to land another AHL deal.
- L Mike Cammalleri UFA. Unsigned, the waiting is the hardest part.
- L Drake Caggiula RFA. Signed, everyone loves the contract.
- L Braden Christoffer RFA. Signed an AHL deal.
- R Anton Slepyshev RFA. Signed with CSKA Moscow, two years.
- R Iiro Pakarinen RFA. Signed one-year deal with Magnita, KHL.
- R Patrick Russell. RFA. Signed, outside chance he sees NHL cup of coffee.
- R Brian Ferlin UFA. Health is the big story. Destination unknown.
- This is not meant to be a depth chart nor a suggestion of lines and pairings. I did put my depth chart above (it’s the one that says ‘PROJECTED 2018-19 DEPTH CHART’).
- The Oilers have one remaining contract (Darnell Nurse) to solve, and may tweak around here and there at the edges of the roster. Unless something falls in their laps, I doubt we’ll see a major change.
- Evan Bouchard and Ostap Safin are the two slides of interest, one or both could end up in pro hockey this fall. Even if they do, 46 is a low number to begin the season. We should see some action around veteran invites (Jason Chimera, etc) and possibly a skill center for Yamamoto in Bakersfield (Bob has hinted at this for some time).
- Bouchard’s status (if they return him to junior, he cannot be retrieved) probably gives him the edge over Ethan Bear through training camp. It’s a similar situation to the one we saw last fall when the Oilers kept junior player Kailer Yamamoto and sent out Jesse Puljujarvi.