Rise Up

by Lowetide
Photo of Evan Bouchard by Mark Williams.

I had Evan Bouchard No. 8 on my final list for 2018, Edmonton grabbed him at No. 10 overall. There were two men higher than Bouchard on my list who were available when the Oilers chose–defenseman Ty Smith and scoring winger Oliver Wahlstrom. I had Noah Dobson No. 10.

There is a lot of luck involved in drafting success, but in the case of Bouchard I think many Oilers fans have lowered expectations before this career begins. Edmonton chose to send Bouchard to the minors least season and may send him there for another year. I believe that would be a mistake. Why? He’s NHL-ready, and the Oilers need the things he brings.

THE ATHLETIC!

Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.

A CONVERSATION

Oilers have another top-10 fail to add to the ‘Decade Collection’! Nail, Jesse and now Bouchard. You must be so proud. Bouchard enjoyed a tremendous junior career, winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL’s best defenseman in 2018-19. Ryan Ellis won that award, Dougie Hamilton, too. In his first season with the Bakersfield Condors, Bouchard delivered strong offense (7-29-36 in 54 games) on a challenged team, with impressive power play totals (4-11-15). He also improved massively in even-strength on-ice performance (first 27: 18-29; second 27: 23-22). He’s an outstanding prospect. Full stop.

What did math tell you about Bouchard? He is probably the most talented offensive defenseman drafted by the Oilers since Paul Coffey. His NHLE’s, beginning in his draft year, are 30.2, 27.4 and (in the AHL) and 26.6.

Where will he play as a rookie? Ideally third pair at five on five, with a veteran defender as his partner. A healthy, late 20’s Andrej Sekera would have been ideal. As it stands, Bouchard is likely to get Kris Russell or Caleb Jones as his partner on the third pair. Darnell Nurse might be the best style choice for partner.

So you and math were happy with Bouchard when he was chosen? Yes. I preferred Smith but he’s a lefty, and Wahlstrom (who I also ranked ahead of Bouchard) is a scoring winger. Bouchard, at No. 10 with his impressive skills, was a terrific selection.

And he is stuck in the AHL! Where is your math God now? I assume the God of math is in the counting room watching the big board balance like a boss. Bouchard is 20 right now. If you’re going to frame him as a failure, move to 2025 and we’ll chat then. I expect this won’t be a conversation at that time.

Why didn’t Holland recall him? Edmonton’s RH side in 2019-20 used Ethan Bear, Adam Larsson and Matt Benning for much of the season. Joel Persson and Mike Green were bookends and there were various appearances from the lefties playing opposite side. Bouchard was showing progress in the minors. They decided to keep him there.

Holland didn’t draft him. You’re always saying that matters. Does it? Yes, it does. Holland and Tyler Wright chose Filip Zadina four picks before Edmonton plucked Bouchard off the board. They would know Bouchard going into camp but know him far better now.

Would Holland trade him? Extremely unlikely. Bouchard plays the rarest position (RHD) on a roster and his best skill (moving the puck) is an area of need. Also, Bouchard’s value now isn’t as high as it will be a year from now. He’s going through a transition process, teams don’t often deal players at this point in their careers.

But players chosen top-10 overall do get traded while they are prospects? Yes, but it is rare. Mikhail Sergachev was traded about a year after he was chosen No. 9 overall in 2016. Alexander Nylander was traded three years after he was drafted (one spot ahead of Sergachev).

If Holland traded Bouchard in a big deal for Colton Parayko, would you be shocked? It won’t happen. St. Louis has their own young defenseman with great promise to work into the lineup (Scott Perunovich) and are in win now mode. If Edmonton gets Parayko, assume the package starts with Klefbom.

Will Bouchard play for the Oilers in 2020-21? Yes, I believe he will. Edmonton may move Larsson and or Benning, and then sign a replacement for Larsson in free agency. You might see Bouchard on an extended roster (ala the postseason roster) before the AHL starts, but smart money should be on his making the team. There’s no contractual benefit in holding him back now and the Oilers save a million replacing Benning with this player. If Edmonton runs Larsson-Bear-Bouchard, and trades Benning, a RH No. 7 option can be signed.

Outstanding performances yesterday by Konovalov, he sports a .938 save percentage and a 2.01 GAA this morning. We have the hockey!

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A full boat of fabulous guests today on the Lowdown, we begin at 10 this morning. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will talk about the Canucks impressive run, Raptors game and intermission panels that lose focus. Frank Seravalli from TSN will pop in at 10:40 and talk trade board and the Flyers. Matt Iwanyk has the floor at 11 to talk Raptors, hockey and a tree in the bubble update. At 11:20, Jason Portuondo, who is the Woodbine track announcer, will talk Kentucky Derby this weekend. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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OriginalPouzar

dustrock: Hadn’t looked up Canucks’ 5v5 stats but I’m going to keep reminding everyone the Oilers were worse than mediocre 5v5 and rode a historic PP and excellent PK to success.

One could argue that the Oilers were exactly who they were against the Hawks.

The Oilers were much better at 5 on 5 in 2020 – much of that was the Drai line but even with McDavid out for 7 games, they were one of the best team’s in the NHL in 2020 and markedly better at 5 on.

dustrock

Harpers Hair: Let’s not forget the Oilers were five points ahead but the Canuck had two games in hand when play was paused.

Hadn’t looked up Canucks’ 5v5 stats but I’m going to keep reminding everyone the Oilers were worse than mediocre 5v5 and rode a historic PP and excellent PK to success.

One could argue that the Oilers were exactly who they were against the Hawks.

Harpers Hair

OriginalPouzar: I actually don’t see alot of comparables between the two teams:

– both teams have a couple elite players (Petterson/Hughes – McDavid Drai)

– Nucks have better offensive depth with a few more secondary guys and their bottom six help out more consistently

– Aside from Hughes, I like the Oilers defensive group better and its deeper

– Goaltending is the biggest difference and it make the biggest difference in the playoffs as it often does

Lets not forget that the Nucks were the inferior team in the regular season through 70 games.

The Oilers are not the team we saw in the first week of August.

Let’s not forget the Oilers were five points ahead but the Canuck had two games in hand when play was paused.

Harpers Hair

Lowetide: Canucks have some work to do this offseason wonder if they can offload Beagle or Sutter

Sutter could be moved with one year left.

Beagle would be much tougher.

OriginalPouzar

JimmyV1965:
The Canucks are a lot like the Oilers. A couple studs, a few good support players and a bunch of cap space wasted on replaceable players. Of course, as good as Pettersson and Hughes are, they will never be McDavid and Drai.

I actually don’t see alot of comparables between the two teams:

– both teams have a couple elite players (Petterson/Hughes – McDavid Drai)

– Nucks have better offensive depth with a few more secondary guys and their bottom six help out more consistently

– Aside from Hughes, I like the Oilers defensive group better and its deeper

– Goaltending is the biggest difference and it make the biggest difference in the playoffs as it often does

Lets not forget that the Nucks were the inferior team in the regular season through 70 games.

The Oilers are not the team we saw in the first week of August.

OriginalPouzar

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl – I anticipate Konovalov will start agains and hope he can build on his great 1st game.

OriginalPouzar

Lowetide: Canucks have some work to do this offseason wonder if they can offload Beagle or Sutter

I was told earlier in the playoffs about how great Sutter was playing and I was thinking, damn, the Oilers might need to add a piece to Kris Russell to get the bloated contract swap done.

Sutter as non-existant and a non-factor in the majority of the players.

The Canucks could use a d-man – Benn and Fantenberg were parts of a defence that, aside from Hughes, was just not good.

The trade makes some sense – equal cap hit and the Nucks save some dollars (I assume, haven’t looked at Sutter’s contract structure in a bit) which could be a factor.

Oilers may need to take get a piece back – maybe a middling AHL d-man like Rafferty.

rickithebear

What % of time you face of 4 forward comp groups is not as important as the high danger/ open shot reduction a dman does to their side.

Being utter shit facing high% of higher comp is a real bad thing!

rickithebear

3 of the 5 deepest champ core roster theory teams are in the final 4.
Tampa, Dallas, VGK.
Boston is out.

jp

Klima’s_Bucket:
Lowetide,

Are you implying Beagle or Sutter could fill the Oilers RC woes???

Just looking into these guys a little (even before you posted). I’m shocked to realize Sutter only spent 21% of his TOI vs Elites this year. Incredibly sheltered.

Klima's_Bucket

Lowetide,

Are you implying Beagle or Sutter could fill the Oilers RC woes???

JimmyV1965

The Canucks are a lot like the Oilers. A couple studs, a few good support players and a bunch of cap space wasted on replaceable players. Of course, as good as Pettersson and Hughes are, they will never be McDavid and Drai.

JimmyV1965

I don’t want to crap on the Canucks, because I think they’ve been a resilient and opportunistic team in the playoffs, but I truly don’t recall a team being so thoroughly outplayed game after game in the playoffs. Six shots after two periods. Wow!!! Lehner did nothing for two periods. And to come up with that massive glove save after so little action may have been even more brilliant than the performance of Demko. How does a goalie even begin to find some kind of rhythm after facing six shots in two periods?

I think the Canucks can hold their heads high. They did enough to push Vegas right to the brink. But what a very very strange series.

jp

Munny: Relative to his peers Orr destroys Hughes on that front, and likely straight up too.

Well yes, no question. Who in their right mind would compare Hughes to Orr though?

I suppose Andrej Sekera was compared to Gretzky earlier…

Munny

jp: Hughes can skate tho.

Relative to his peers Orr destroys Hughes on that front, and likely straight up too.

jp

Munny: He was 6’0″ and 200 lbs.Big difference.And Orr could fight.

Howe was a huge player in his day and was the same height and 5 lbs heavier than Orr. Esposito was thought to be a giant.He was 6’1″, 205.John Ferguson was 6 foot and 178.

The elephants didn’t arrive till the 70s.

Orr was about the equivalent of Klef or Broberg compared to his peers.

Hughes can skate tho.

Munny

Harpers Hair: Bobby Orr played at 6’0” and 190.

He did okay.

He was 6’0″ and 200 lbs. Big difference. And Orr could fight.

Howe was a huge player in his day and was the same height and 5 lbs heavier than Orr. Esposito was thought to be a giant. He was 6’1″, 205. John Ferguson was 6 foot and 178.

The elephants didn’t arrive till the 70s.

Orr was about the equivalent of Klef or Broberg compared to his peers.

jp

Lowetide: When Orr played, that was a little above average.

Also, Hughes is not, and likely never will be, 190 lbs.

jp

flea:

Might get an opportunity in 3-5 years when Petterson and Hughes are peaking, but I think their window will be short.

I’ve got a feeling the shine will come off Hughes a little and he’ll score less next season than this one.

Material Elvis

Canucks: everything the best; all arrows up; sky’s the limit.

Oilers: awful; Sarahan desert is more fertile; future’s bleak.

Eh Team

Lowetide: Harpers Hair: The Canuck havea top ten prospect pool.

Lots of high end talent coming and their anchor contracts start falling away in a year.

They’re the goods.

Canucks have some work to do this offseason wonder if they can offload Beagle or Sutter

Benning signed those brutal contracts and he’s still there, so there is nothing stopping him from doing the same thing. Canucks without Benning would be much more dangerous.

Harpers Hair

Scungilli Slushy: No

Myers had a season

Hughes is a supremely talented player but is limited by size

Makar is great but small

Nobody says Housley Rafalski Routsalanen when talking best all time

They’ll write their own stories but so far undersized offensive D make the grade of ice dominating D man

Bobby Orr played at 6’0” and 190.

He did okay.

Harpers Hair

flea:
So – is Vancouver closer to winning a cup?

Or is this their ceiling? 2nd round team?

I don’t see a strong path forward for the Canucks to become true contenders. I’ve gained an appreciation for their team but still – not sure how much more they could push.

Might get an opportunity in 3-5 years when Petterson and Hughes are peaking, but I think their window will be short.

The Canuck have a top ten prospect pool.

Lots of high end talent coming and their anchor contracts start falling away in a year.

They’re the goods.

Eh Team

OriginalPouzar: Demko save % 990

Smith save % 783

Demko – 24 years old

Smith 38 years old

Not saying Smith was any good, but not sure Demko is the answer. But Vancouver needs to go to Demko and punt Markstrom for the same reason Bouchard, Benson and every other young player ready for the NHL needs to play. Especially if they supplant a costly veteran.

OriginalPouzar: Bouchard will most certainly play many NHL games this coming season – there is no costly veteran to supplant as Matt Benning isn’t very costly and is value for this contract (well likely contract).

Supplanting veterans is good but, in order to be supplanted, the org needs to find someone to take those veterans.

Lagesson needs to supplant Russell as 4LD but its not easy to get Russell off the cap.

In a year both Russell and Larsson will be gone. Even if Russell is here Lagesson should play ahead of him.

OriginalPouzar

Eh Team: Not saying Smith was any good, but not sure Demko is the answer.But Vancouver needs to go to Demko and punt Markstrom for the same reason Bouchard, Benson and every other young player ready for the NHL needs to play.Especially if they supplant a costly veteran.

Bouchard will most certainly play many NHL games this coming season – there is no costly veteran to supplant as Matt Benning isn’t very costly and is value for this contract (well likely contract).

Supplanting veterans is good but, in order to be supplanted, the org needs to find someone to take those veterans.

Lagesson needs to supplant Russell as 4LD but its not easy to get Russell off the cap.

flea

So – is Vancouver closer to winning a cup?

Or is this their ceiling? 2nd round team?

I don’t see a strong path forward for the Canucks to become true contenders. I’ve gained an appreciation for their team but still – not sure how much more they could push.

Might get an opportunity in 3-5 years when Petterson and Hughes are peaking, but I think their window will be short.

Eh Team

OriginalPouzar: Demko save % 990

Smith save % 783

Demko – 24 years old

Smith 38 years old

Not saying Smith was any good, but not sure Demko is the answer. But Vancouver needs to go to Demko and punt Markstrom for the same reason Bouchard, Benson and every other young player ready for the NHL needs to play. Especially if they supplant a costly veteran.

Victoria Oil

leadfarmer:
What a run by Demko
Too bad for him his team left the bubble three games ago

.984 save percentage over 3 games isn’t bad. Canucks showed no real urgency until the last minute. Vegas”s special teams were miles better than Vancouver.

leadfarmer

What a run by Demko
Too bad for him his team left the bubble three games ago

leadfarmer

Well Dallas Vegas will be fun.
They get to duke it out for who gets their butts handed to them by Bolts

Munny

Thank you.

Munny

Just score already Vegas

leadfarmer

Harpers Hair: Tuesday.

It’s always Tuesday.

Remember when we had that conversation that Canucks are actually not a good team they just live off their goalies.
Yeah that was fun

pts2pndr

buck yoakam:
Harpers Hair,

whens the next pajama party veronica?…

He was probably in band or cheer leading in high school, not really smart enough for the smart crowd. His momma had to tie a pork chop to him so the dog would play with him. Now just an angry old man that takes his frustration out on others. We should be nice to him maybe his one friend just died!

leadfarmer

JOFA:
The Bolts can order up their rings.

These playoffs are just to decide who gets to lose to the bolts

JOFA

What a save on Myers!

JOFA

The Bolts can order up their rings.

JOFA

I wanted to see the Avs vs Vegas. But Go Demo! What a great story if they can pull out a win.

OriginalPouzar

Best chance on the Vancouver 5 min PP was for Vegas.

Victoria Oil

OriginalPouzar:
Not sure I’ve ever seen a team get dominated like this through two games but not give up a goal.

Vegas just insanely dominant but Reaves may have just given the series away.

Agreed. Nucks are clearly the 2nd best team on the ice and undeserving of being in this. Only one shot thru 7 1/2 minutes of power play time so far.

Gotta give credit to Demko, though.

OriginalPouzar

Not sure I’ve ever seen a team get dominated like this through two games but not give up a goal.

Vegas just insanely dominant but Reaves may have just given the series away.

pts2pndr

digger50: Umm, called from where?

You have to change your thinking for this season. Yes you have to open up a spot because you don’t have money to cover this usual gradual progression. Choices must be made.

I think this is bang on!

Victoria Oil

Material Elvis:
Canucks had two shots on net in the first period.Going with the strategy that won them the last two games.

Through 6 1/2 games, VGK have outshot Vancouver 255 to 159 in aggregate, outshooting them every single game

#CanucksHaveBeenLucky

Scungilli Slushy

Scungilli Slushy: No

Myers had a season

Hughes is a supremely talented player but is limited by size

Makar is great but small

Nobody says Housley Rafalski Routsalanen when talking best all time

They’ll write their own stories but so far undersized offensive D make the grade of ice dominating D man

Forgot a no in there

Scungilli Slushy

Harpers Hair: Tyler Myers’s is 6’8”.

Want to re-think that?

No

Myers had a season

Hughes is a supremely talented player but is limited by size

Makar is great but small

Nobody says Housley Rafalski Routsalanen when talking best all time

They’ll write their own stories but so far undersized offensive D make the grade of ice dominating D man

Material Elvis

Canucks had two shots on net in the first period. Going with the strategy that won them the last two games.

Material Elvis

OriginalPouzar: We were told that Juolevi had arrived based on a playoff game earlier this post-season – must have been a hell of a 4 minutes of ice.

He‘s probably great at video games, though.