When the Edmonton Oilers traded Tyson Barrie to the Nashville Predators for a extra defensive-minded blueliner in Mattias Ekholm, GM Ken Holland successfully gave the keys to the Oilers’ offense from the blue line to Evan Bouchard. Bouchard is now the go-to man on the finest energy play in the NHL and, consequently, he’s certain to construct confidence, pot gravy factors, and up his numbers as an offensively-gifted d-man.
It’s partly a call based mostly on necessity, however it may additionally be a part of a long-term plan to showcase Bouchard as a key element to an offseason commerce that will see the Oilers go after a much bigger fish in Erik Karlsson, — a defenseman the Oilers had been rumored to have curiosity in previous to the NHL Trade Deadline.
Granted, if Bouchard actually turns issues up and turns into a top-tier defenseman over the final 17 video games of the 2022-23 NHL season, the Oilers would possibly really feel no have to chase after the close to 100 factors that Karlsson is on tempo to provide this season. Moreover, if Bouchard proves himself to be the actual deal, the Oilers would possibly as effectively hold who they’ve and the participant they know, opting for a bridge deal or a long-term contract that will see him turn into a part of their core.
That mentioned, if Bouchard picks up the tempo however doesn’t turn into a participant the Oilers really feel is their No. 1 d-man on the proper aspect, there may be a plan to dangle Bouchard in a future Sharks and Oilers pre-draft commerce.
The Sharks are going to be trying for picks, prospects, and younger gamers with a future in the event that they’re to deal Karlsson at the draft. Meanwhile, the Oilers are going to be trying for an elite defenseman who may also help them win a Stanley Cup now. If Bouchard exhibits actual indicators of development, the Sharks may even see him as a blueliner value investing in. They may be keener to make him the centerpiece of any cope with Edmonton that will see Karlsson come again the different means. A 50-point Bouchard is value a complete lot greater than a 35-point Bouchard. Had he not been given the alternative to quarterback the Oilers’ energy play, the latter was extra possible the place he’d have wound up when the season was full.
With the commerce deadline now handed, this season, wins are all that matter. If Bouchard may also help the Oilers safe these wins, he’ll hold getting the ball and the likelihood to run with it. All the whereas, San Jose will probably be watching. If Bouchard explodes offensively, he’ll be an enticing possibility for a Sharks’ crew that will look to maneuver Karlsson this summer season.
In the summer season, Edmonton could have decisions to make, however extra flexibility on the wage cap to make them. Will the determination be to present Bouchard a wholesome new deal and transfer ahead with him at the helm? Or, will or not it’s to name the Sharks and transfer him to get the defenseman they want as we speak at the price they know for the subsequent few seasons?
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